Police probing agreement between banker-turned-politician and wife

The State Police has started a case probing whether Mārtiņš Bondars' -- a banker-turned-politician from the For Development/For! party -- agreement with his wife has not been falsified, reported LTV's De Facto August 26.

This agreement would guarantee that Bondars' house would not be confiscated, should he be found guilty over causing losses to the bank Latvijas Krājbanka.

Before embarking on a political career, Bondars was board chairman at the bank, which collapsed in 2011 under murky circumstances.

The bank's insolvency administrators are trying to regain millions of euros over credit extended before Krājbanka's collapse, allegedly without any reasonable expectation that the money would be returned.

Last year, a court ruled that Bondars and other former employees should pay back €15 million to the bank. At the same time, the court has frozen Bondars' assets, including company shares, his car and bank accounts. The case is under appeal.

Property register assets meanwhile say that the Bondars' family home in affluent Mārupe belongs to his wife Ieva. The entry in the register testifying to this was made soon after Bondars was fined, but the couple claim that the house has been separate property since 2006 as per an agreement, which however went unregistered until Bondars' finances were imperiled. 

Bondars did not reveal why the agreement was not registered but says that he did so after expert suggestions.

A year ago, Rīga city deputy Aleksejs Rosļikovs (Harmony), a political opponent of Bondars, turned to the State Police asking the contract to be checked, but after Bondars was questioned the case went silent. 

Nevertheless, early this summer the police received an application from Latvia's anti-graft team, the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau, after which the police started an investigation. State Police rep Gita Gžibovska told LTV that the investigation concerns document fraud.

A copy of the contract, obtained by De Facto, reveals that the agreement is dated June 12, 2006 but was only registered officially in 2017 at a notary who was working at the Latvijas Krājbanka building when Bondars was heading the bank.

However, Bondars' official asset declaration did not list the house as separate property when he left work at the presidential chancery. His declaration for 2006 lists the house as being co-owned by him and his wife.

The case against former Krājbanka employees alleges that the bank's board approved the issuing of large loans to several offshore companies believed to be controlled by bank owner Vladimir Antonov as a way of moving assets out of the bank, and with no reasonable expectation that the loans would ever be repaid. 

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