Harmony politician named in connection to Ossinovski bribery case

Take note – story published 5 years and 5 months ago

A couple of years ago, former anti-graft official and current New Conservative Party MP Juris Jurašs announced that he'd been offered a €1m bribe to use his influence for helping Estonian millionaire Oleg Ossinovski achieve a favorable result in court.

Jurašs also alleged that Jaroslavs Streļčenoks, former head of the Corruption Combating and Prevention Bureau (KNAB), had ignored his allegations. Eventually, a criminal case was started, only to quickly die away.

Now, according to investigative documents obtained by De Facto, it appears that Ossinovsky told KNAB he had discussed business matters with Harmony politician Andrejs Elksniņš, formerly an MP and now a councillor at Daugavpils, Latvia's second-largest city. 

In the aforementioned case, Jurašs reportedly was told by an acquaintance that Elksniņš would give him €1m million for a favorable outcome in the Latvian Railways bribery case. No action was taken for a very long time, despite that Jurašs had informed his superior over the event. 

Elksniņš, a lawyer, organized the defense of Ossinovski in a notorious case in which police detained former railway high-flier Uģis Magonis with a coffer of €0.5 million in cash, an alleged bribe from Ossinovski.

After Jurašs went public with the allegations, he became a suspect in a State Security Service (formerly the Security Police) investigation over knowingly divulging state secrets. 

All the people named by Jurašs, however, deny any wrongdoing, according to a court ruling over the case. His acquaintance, the only suspect named in the case, noted that the meeting with Jurašs amounted to an exchange of rumors. He confirmed this by phone to De Facto

Nevertheless the KNAB, which investigated the case, had hopes that the recordings of a phone call between Jurašs and Ossinovski would prove crucial in the case. In the phone call, they discussed Elksniņš as well. 

Phone call between Jurašs and Ossinovski (March 30, 2016)

J.Jurašs: – Did [A.Elksniņš] ask for money? Did he?

O.Osinovskis: – He asked for a million for KNAB.

J.Jurašs: – A million.

O.Osinovskis: – For KNAB.

J.Jurašs: – Well, was it a million? Have you talked about this?

O.Osinovskis: – We have.

J.Jurašs: – Yes. Well, was it your initiative? Or was it his...does he think that you should give it to KNAB so as to solve this? What was it? 

O.Osinovskis: – Well, if he had visited me 25 times, going to every corner of the globe -- was it me who asked for it, or him?

J.Jurašs: – [sighs] Well, if you had been ready to cooperate at that moment and he had been put into jail for extorting a bribe, it would have been the biggest bonus you could ever hope fore. He used you, really, he tricked you. He asked you for money knowing that you are, how shall we put it, a solvent client.

Ossinovski denies that Elksniņš asked him for money

Questioned by the KNAB, however, Ossinovski said that Elksniņš had not asked him for money to give Jurašs or any other official.

Ossinovski did not offer further comment, while Elksniņš went on the offensive, berating Jurašs' reports as rubbish produced by a "failed KNAB investigator" and saying that Ossinovski had turned to him after the Latvian Railways bribery case was started, in order to report cases of systematic corruption in Latvia.

While Jurašs is still sure that there'd been a bribery attempt, a KNAB investigation found no evidence to prove an attempt to bribe Jurašs. 

The Latvian Railways case is to continue in February, with Ossinovski accused of handing a large bribe and former Latvian Railways head Uģis Magonis accused of accepting it. 

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