Rimšēvičs case needs to take months, not years says anti-corruption chief

The case against Latvia's central bank governor Ilmārs Rimšēvičs needs to be conducted and concluded in a matter of months, not years as with previous high-profile alleged corruption cases, Latvia's anti-corruption force director Jēkabs Straume told independent LNT television March 20.

"Taking into account the amount of evidence involved in this criminal investigation, proceedings should be carried out in a matter of months, not years,'' Straume said, though he declined to give any firmer estimate of how long the case might take but stated categorically that it certainly would not be dropped by the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB).

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However, it does signal a clear departure from previous high-profile cases against senior officials such as those against former Latvenergo president Karlis Mikelsons and former Latvian Railways boss Ugis Magonis, both of which have been dragging on for years. The most notorious case of all, against Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs, is entering its second decade before the courts.

Such judicial delays only serve to undermine public confidence in the legal system and reinforce the widespread belief that the rich can in effect keep their cases rolling indefinitely and are effectively untouchable. 

As previously reported, central bank governor Rimšēvičs is suspected of soliciting or accepting a bribe of at least 100,000 euros. He denies the charges and has refused to resign his post pending investigations, creating a headache not only for the central bank itself but for the European Central Bank, on which Rimšēvičs sits on the governing council.

After paying a security bond, Rimšēvičs is out of custody but not allowed to leave the country or enter the central bank - even though he is still the governor of the institution.

The main Rimšēvičs case is just one strand of a complex series of scandals and allegations in Latvia's financial sector that have made international headlines. 

 

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