Former customs official Vaskevics sentenced to 6 years in jail for corruption

  • 2024-04-09
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Riga City Vidzeme District Court on Tuesday handed down a jail term of six years to Vladimirs Vaskevics, the former head of the Customs Criminal Board, who was tried in absentia on corruption charges, LETA learned at the court. 

The Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) arrested Vaskevics in the winter of 2011, but he was later released on EUR 85,372 bail. Vaskevics then moved to Austria and never returned to Latvia. According to unofficial sources, he has since moved to Russia. 

KNAB detained Vaskevics on suspicions of giving a EUR 50,000 bribe to Talis Kravalis, then director of the Customs Board of the State Revenue Service, to secure a favorable outcome of an inquiry against a company and to prevent inquiries from being started against several other persons and companies. 

As he was released from custody, Vaskevics was banned from approaching certain persons and locations, leaving the country and holding certain positions. 

However, after his release, Vaskevics obtained a court permission to travel to Austria. According to his lawyer Jelena Kvjatkovska, Vaskevics' health rapidly deteriorated in Austria and he needed urgent surgery, followed by lengthy treatment. The court suspended the hearing of his case. 

In 2018, an Austrian prosecutor informed LETA that Vaskevics' extradition to Latvia was impossible as his transportation was ruled out because of the poor health condition. 

Nothing Personal, an analytical news program of TV3 channel, reported though that the claims of Vaskevics' poor health were probably a lie. Authors of a film shot for Vaskevics' defense, "Inconvenient Vaskevics. An attack on the country", told TV3 that they saw Vaskevics feigning illness. 

After the TV3 report, the Latvian prosecutor's office said that it would take notice of this information, but evidence had already been obtained to suggest that Vaskevics had obstructed the course of justice, including while still in Latvia.

Proceedings in his case were restarted and the defendant was tried in absentia. 

In 2022, Nothing Personal reported that Vaskevics has moved to Russia and is working as a business advisor. His Latvian passport expired in 2017, and he has not obtained a new one. Several sources confirmed to the TV program that after living in Austria for several years, Vaskevics has relocated to Moscow. 

In 2007, Vaskevics sustained injuries when a bomb that had been planted under his car exploded.