Lembergs, long-time city mayor, wealthy businessman and an influential figure within the Greens and Farmers Alliance political grouping has been on trial on corruption charges for a decade. The case has yet to reach a verdict.
The announcement of sanctions against him by the U.S. Department of the Treasury lays an impressive number of unpleasant qualities and actions at Lembergs' door, declaring:
"Lembergs controls entities through political parties and corrupt politicians, and systematically exploits those entities and individuals for his own economic gain.
"Lembergs has used his influence over leadership of political parties to shape government personnel and place certain government officials in positions, as well as to obstruct other government officials from obtaining leadership positions. Additionally, Lembergs has corrupted law enforcement officials to protect his interests," the Treasury wrote.
In addition a number of economic entities and organizations connected to Lembergs find themselves sanctioned, likely to have a significant impact on the wilingness of other companies to enter into relationships of any sort with them. They are Ventspils Freeport Authority, Ventspils Attistibas Agentura (also known as Ventspils Development Agency), Biznesa Attistibas Asociacija (also known as Business Development Association), and Latvijas Tranzita Biznesa Asociacija (also known as Latvian Transit Business Association).
Read the full statement online: https://home.treasury.gov/news/press-releases/sm849
"This U.S. action underscores the U.S. commitment to Latvia and our determination to hold corrupt oligarchs accountable for their actions against a key European ally," the Treasury said.
"As a result of today’s action, all property and interests in property of the individuals and entities named above, and of any entities that are owned, directly or indirectly, 50 percent or more by them, individually, or with other designated persons, that are in the United States or in the possession or control of U.S. persons, are blocked and must be reported to OFAC [Office of Foreign Assets Control]. Unless authorized by a general or specific license issued by OFAC or otherwise exempt, OFAC’s regulations generally prohibit all transactions by U.S. persons or within (or transiting) the United States that involve any property or interests in property of designated or otherwise blocked persons," the Treasury explained.
It all adds up to international humiliation for the man who has in the past helped hand-pick presidents and prime ministers and famously ignored an attempt to dismiss him as Ventspils mayor by a minister.
But Lembergs can take some consolation from the fact he is not alone on the list. Other people sanctioned December 9 include arms dealer Slobodan Tesic and his confederates, a pair of corrupt Venezuelan immigration officials who are alleged to have sold passports for cash, Cambodian illegal logger Try Pheap, fellow Cambodian former General Kum Kim, and a selection of offshore companies linked to all of the above.
Lembergs' trial continues...