Anti-graft cop probed for revealing alleged bribe attempt - twice

A former senior member of Latvia's specialist anti-corruption police is being investigated for revealing an attempt to offer him a huge bribe, the Ir news weekly reported Wednesday.

According to the magazine Juris Jurašs, who recently lost his job as part of a controversial clear-out of staff at the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) is being investigated on suspicion of revealing state secrets in an interview he gave to the magazine in July.

During the course of the interview, Jurašs alleged that while working at KNAB last year he had been offered a million-euro bribe and had reported the matter to his superior, KNAB chief Jaroslavs Strelcenoks, but that much to his surprise no action was taken as a result.

Other than confirming that an investigation had indeed been launched against Jurašs, the Prosecutor General's office refused further comment as did the Security Police, the branch of law enforcement conducting the inquiry.

According to Jurašs, the attempted bribe came in connection with what is probably Latvia's highest-profile corruption case involving former Latvian Railways boss and business bigwig Ugis Magonis.

Jurašs said the bribe was part of an effort to get serious graft charges downgraded to trading in influence, which carries a lighter potential penalty.

The move to investigate Jurašs creates a curious position. If found guilty of disclosing a state secret, it would seem to strengthen his claim that a bribe was actually offered - which would make the inaction of his superiors all the more puzzling.

The move also comes against the backdrop of Strelcenoks' tenure as KNAB chief coming up for renewal - or challenge by another candidate - in November.

KNAB has a long history of internal discord.

For several years Latvian officials have talked about drafting a whistleblowing law to protect those who want to reveal sensitive information in the public interest - but the plans seem to have fallen by the wayside, perpetuating a situation in which whistleblowers are themselves likely to face prosecution.

Most notoriously this happened in the case of Ilmars Poikans, aka 'Neo' who leaked tax records to reveal official hypocrisy. After lengthy court action he found himself sentenced to 100 hours of community service despite being voted 'European of the Year' by the Latvian public for his action.


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