Ventspils bigwig paid municipal funds for marketing services

The official income declaration of Ventspils mayor Aivars Lembergs shows that last year he earned close to €100,000 from a company partially funded by the Ventspils Municipality.

His total income was €333,461 last year, of which €72,740 are retirement benefits; about the same sum was furnished by the Valters un Rapa publishing company, which rents a Rīga penthouse from Lembergs. He also received €44,301 as a board member at the Ventspils Free Port and some €22,000 as the town's mayor. 

But a great part of his income comes from a company that's partially funded by public monies. He heads the Ventspils Development Agency (Ventspils attīstības aģentūra), which popularizes the western Latvian town.

Lembergs told De Facto that he receives money for his help with marketing. "And I am of course paid according to shareholders' decision," he said.

Incidentally, Lembergs stands accused of serious crimes and attends four court meetings a week. He estimates that he spends about five hours a day at court, and taking into account six hours' worth of sleep there are thirteen hours for him to do his work. "Is that little? It's probably more than you work, but I am not counting your time and money," he quipped.

The association is funded by the municipality, both directly and indirectly, by way of municipal companies.

Lembergs' alleged work at the company has been probed by the State Police and Latvia's anti-graft office, but no law violations have been discovered.

Municipal minister Juris Pūce (Development/For!) said he too doesn't think any illegalities are involved but he is nevertheless to meet opposition councilors at Ventspils who think that the opposite is true. 

Lembergs, widely regarded as one of Latvia's 'oligarchs', is a politician and businessman. He is the leader of the political party “For Latvia and Ventspils” (“Latvijai un Ventspilij”) which is part of the Greens and Farmers Union political grouping, in which he is regarded as something of a grey eminence, having previously been its candidate for Prime Minister on several occasions. 

Recently, the prosecution demanded Lembergs be punished with an eight-year prison sentence in a long-running case where Lembergs stands accused over a number of white-collar offences, 

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