Former minister wants to head anti-corruption force

A former Latvian government minister has said he is a candidate to head the country's anti-graft force.

Former Interior Minister Maris Gulbis is one of the candidates who have applied to head the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau's (KNAB) and told the LETA newswire he hopes to make it to the second round of the competition.

Gulbis, who was Interior Minister from 2002-4 told LETA that his motivation was to improve the efficiency of the Corruption Prevention Bureau to the level of the Estonian corruption prevention authority, not to mention other European countries. He believes that corruption is one of the main obstacles to the economic development of Latvia.

"In any case, I would do everything in my power," said Gulbis, adding that it was important that more money went into the national economy, not various "schemes". He also mentioned three areas where corruption prevention measures should be stepped up in particular: Riga City Council, almost the entire construction industry, as well as one particular ministry and a company it runs.

September 13 was the last day candidates could apply for the KNAB job. Three persons have publicly confirmed so far that they have applied for the job: the current Corruption Prevention Bureau Chief Jaroslavs Strelcenoks, former State Police Zemgale Administration Chief Haralds Laidins, and Gulbis.

According to Latvian Radio sources, there are believed to be four candidates in the running. 

The commission for evaluation of candidates will hold its first meeting on September 19, and information about candidates shortlisted for the second round of the competition will be posted on the Cabinet of Ministers website on November 1.

Strelcenoks' term in office ends November 17.

Though targeting corruption has been a priority for years, KNAB's work has repeatedly been hampered by internal wrangles.

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