RIGA - The Vidzeme District Court today acquitted former Latvijas Dzelzcels railroad company's CEO Ugis Magonis and Estonian millionaire Oleg Ossinovski on bribery charges.
The ruling may be appealed to the Vidzeme Regional Court.
According to the indictment, in the summer of 2015 Magonis accepted a EUR 500,000 bribe from Ossinovski so that Latvijas Dzelzcels subsidiary LDz Ritosa Sastava Serviss would purchase four old locomotives for several million euros from Ossinovski's company Skinest Rail. The criminal case was investigated by the Corruption Prevention Bureau.
The prosecutor's office asked the court to hand down four-year prison sentences to both defendants. In addition, the prosecutor's office wanted Magonis' property to be confiscated and ban Magonis from working on boards of state and municipal companies for five years.
The prosecution also asked to recognize the 499,500 euros' worth of cash seized at the time of the two suspects' arrest as proceeds from crime and pay it into the government budget.
Addressing the court, Ossinovski pleaded not guilty and repeatedly emphasized that he, as a private individual, had paid Magonis a commission to use Magonis' contacts at Russian Railways in order to renew a lucrative contract between Daugavpils Locomotive Repair Plant and Russian Railways.
As reported, Juris Jurass, formerly a high-ranking Corruption Prevention Bureau official, said in the summer of 2016 that he had been offered a EUR 1 million bribe in return for changing the charges brought against Magonis - from bribery to trading in influence, which carries a much lighter sentence.
Jurass said that he had informed then Corruption Prevention Bureau Chief Jaroslavs Strelcenoks and Prosecutor General Eriks Kalnmeiers about the bribe, but no reaction followed, which is why he then told the press about the bribe.
The Corruption Prevention Bureau later said that Jurass had said too much and therefore significantly impeded the bureau's investigation into his allegations. The case is currently reviewed by a court of first instance.