Court rules in major Latvenergo bribery case

The Riga District Court completed reviewing one of the "Latvenergo" bribery cases today, ordering the company's former vice-president Aigars Melko and company "Energy Consulting" head Andrejs Livanovics to pay hefty fines, and acquitting "Latvenergo" technical director Gunars Cvetkovs.

According to the court ruling, Melko will have to pay a fine of €48,100 and Livanovics €37,000 - Melko for unauthorized receipt of benefits and Livanovics for commercial bribery.

The full verdict will be released on January 25, after which the defendants will have ten days to appeal it.

Prosecutor Maris Leja said he could not yet comment the court's decision, and that he would consider filing an appeal after acquainting himself with the full ruling.

Melko, Livanovics and Cvetkovs gave no comment.

Melko and Livanovics previously both claimed that they were not guilty and denied any wrongdoing. Melko said the charges were illogical and unfounded, while Livanovics said he had never offered a bribe to Cvetkovs or Melko.

Last summer, prosecutor Leja demanded jail sentences for Melko, Cvetkovs and Livanovics - five years and six months in jail for Melko, five years for Cvetkovs, and five years for Livanovics.

Leja also said Melko and Cvetkovs should pay €480,600 compensation, and Livanovics' company "Energy Consulting" - €608,000. In addition, Melko asked the court to open a case against former "Alstom Latvia" official Juris Lacis for perjury.

According to the indictment in the case, "Latvenergo" officials and employees were receiving bribes from August 2007 to June 2010 so "Latvenergo" would pick "Alstom Power Sweden AB's" bid for reconstruction of hydraulic units at the Plavinas power plant. The total amount of bribes, in this particular case, was €627,100.

Livanovics was charged with giving bribes, and Melko and his former colleague Cvetkovs with taking bribes.

The Corruption Prevention Bureau opened the criminal case against "Latvenergo" officials in 2010. Searches were carried out at their offices, and several leading "Latvenergo" officials were detained, including former "Latvenergo" President Karlis Mikelsons and his deputy Melko.

In the fall of 2012, the Corruption Prevention Bureau asked the prosecutor's office to bring charges against seventeen persons in total over bribery during the reconstruction of Plavinas power plant and Riga 2nd cogeneration plant.

According to the Corruption Prevention Bureau, the now former "Latvenergo" officials have received a total of approximately €8 million in bribes, and were to receive another €11 million in bribe money but were detained before it could happen.

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