Justice Minister moves to sack long-standing Prosecutor General

Take note – story published 5 years and 1 month ago

Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns (New Conservative Party) has expressed no-confidence in Prosecutor General Ēriks Kalnmeiers and wants him probed over his track record against money laundering, Bordāns told the press May 17.

The Justice Ministry is one of the ministries responsible for setting the country's finance sector in order and introducing international requirements against money laundering. The Office of the Prosecutor-General is also one of the responsible institutions. 

The ministry said there's reason to think that Prosecutor General's attitudes and actions threaten the introduction of international recommendations and fulfilling the tasks set forth in the government declaration. The ministry said this "also [threatens] the country's financial and economic stability" as it can cause Latvia be introduced into an international "gray list".

As reported earlier by LSM, last August saw the release of a report of the Council of Europe's Moneyval department for the prevention of money laundering in Latvia. It subjected Latvia to "follow-up procedures" and set forth policy recommendations.

Not following those might result in Latvia being put on the Moneyval "Gray list" which could complicate international transactions to and from the country and have a knock-on effect of exports and the wider economy.

The ministry also questions Kalnmeiers' reputation, his record in managing subordinate prosecutors and the slow transposition of international best practices into the office's work. 

Bordāns' announcement said that "it follows that the Prosecutor General's current track record might have caused substantial harm to state and public interests and it is not compatible with the stringent requirements for taking the office of Prosecutor General."

The Prosecutor General can be dismissed by the Saeima with the decision of a specially appointed Justice of the Supreme Court. 

But Ivars Bičkovs, Chief Justice at the Supreme Court, did not comment the announcement that calls him to evaluate Kalnmeiers' suitability for the post he has held for nearly a decade.

Bičkovs, who can still be pressed into action by a parliamentary vote, said that currently none of the legal requirements for starting an official probe into Kalnmeiers' work have been met.

Meanwhile Kalnmeiers told the press that the motivation for this initiative is unclear to him. "I only know that I am being indicted with every possible sin," he said. 

He also ventured to suggest that the New Conservative Party is simply fulfilling its election promise of overhauling what some saw as a corrupt and or fainéant bureaucracy. "I'm not the first and I won't be the last, I think," he said. 

Kalnmeiers’ term in the office expires next spring. He became Prosecutor General in 2010 and can't be elected for a third term. 

Kalnmeiers rose to the position after Saeima surprisingly rejected Jānis Maizītis for his second term as General Prosecutor in a vote that has since been made open. Maizītis now heads the Constitutional Protection Bureau, Latvia’s state intelligence service.

The Prosecutor General has come under flak for perceived inaction in the so-called "oligarch case" as well as his readiness to bring charges against the New Conservatives' MP Juris Jurašs, a former anti-corruption officer who blew the whistle on what he says was an attempt to bribe him in a high-profile case.

Early last year Kalnmeiers also came out with the suspicion that his house and even his dog may have been interfered with by unknown intruders

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