Police suspect graft at Riga port

The State Police's Economic Crimes Department has opened criminal proceedings over suspected criminal offences at the Freeport of Riga, the LETA newswire reported Tuesday.

According to the State Police, the decision was made following the State Audit Office's findings and according to the Criminal Law's chapter on criminal offences committed in state authority service.

There are no suspects in the case at the moment - which may sound odd to foreign ears but simply means no individuals have been officially designated as suspects yet.

The Audit Office previously established that the Freeport of Riga Authority had outsourced services that should have been provided by the authority's own employees, and in doing so misspent at least  €611,888.

Also, the Freeport Authority permitted construction of a facility in Krievu Sala, as part of the Krievu Sala development project for the Freeport of Riga, that belonged to a legal entity not associated with the port. The project cost €1,012,467.

The Audit Office's report also pointed to other instances where the Freeport of Riga Authority could have sustained losses as a result of port officials' decisions.

In the meantime, a criminal case against the port's controversial CEO Leonids Loginovs and his deputy Aigars Pecaks was recently forwarded to the Riga Northern District Court. Both stand accused of misuse of power. The court is to begin review of the case on September 19.

The port of Riga plays a crucial role in Latvia's economy and generates huge amounts of cash. However, its internal workings are notoriously opaque and with its board consisting of political appointees, rumours of kickbacks and numerous other forms of graft are a staple of Riga's table-talk gossip.

However, CEO Loginovs, one of the country' wealthiest individuals, has so far batted away all attempts to unseat him and has not been found guilty of any criminal charges.  

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