"Consulting" sinecures for council employees discovered at Rīgas satiksme

For almost three years, Rīga City Council employees including Laila Ivāna, the former head of the Rīga City Council PR department and current press secretary of Rīga mayor Nils Ušakovs (Harmony), received pay from the municipal transport company, reported LTV's De Facto March 3.

Latvia's anti-graft office is currently investigating possible corruption at the Rīgas satiksme transport company. It is known that Harmony politicians have long held posts at Rīgas satiksme.

Ušakovs' assistant Olga Portnova also received money from Rīgas satiksme over the course of three years, up until previous head of the company Leons Bemhens was detained late last year. 

Meanwhile Ivāna received €1,500 a month after tax (the average wage in Latvia was €742 last year) even though Rīgas satiksme has its own dedicated PR department.

Ivāna told LTV that she consulted Rīgas satiksme "in any PR matters where the Rīga City Council and Rīgas satiksme have shared goals, tasks and jobs."

De Facto points out that last year current city council employee Aleksejs Futs – earlier a notable figure in Harmony's youth events – reportedly consulted call center employees at the company for six months.

Meanwhile Tatjana Sergejeva-Zusko, a clerk at the city's traffic department, had agreements with the company for the past five years.

The new board at the company has ceased agreements with several dozen people, on whom about €1m had been spent in consulting contracts.

Anrijs Matīss, the temporary head of Rīgas satiksme, said that he does not suspect that the people were fictitiously employed, but he said he will check whether the agreements had actually been useful.

"I have an obligation to react and to check this. It will be analyzed, there's no doubt about it," he said.

The temporary management at Rīgas satiksme has opted not to renew contracts with seven Harmony councilors. 

Earlier, a number of people connected with the Harmony party were found to be fictitiously employed at the housing management company Rīgas Namu Pārvaldnieks.

As reported, there's an ongoing corruption probe about possible graft at the Rīgas Satiksme transport company over companies allegedly winning tenders by bribing Rīgas satiksme and Rīga City Council officials. 

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