Investigation into former head of Latvian Railways started over bribery allegations

  • 2015-08-11
  • BNS/TBT Staff/RIGA

On August 10, 2015, the Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau started a criminal investigation against the recently fired former Latvian Railway president, Ugis Magonis, for accepting a large bribe.

A spokesperson for Latvian Railways said the criminal investigation was started under an article of Penal Law regarding large-scale corruption committed by a state official. 

The offence carries a jail term of two to ten years, confiscation of property, and a ban on holding certain offices for up to five years.

According to the spokesperson, the evidence obtained during the investigation was sufficient to prove the bribe has been received in connection with a procurement procedure organised by the Latvijas Dzelzcels subsidiary, LDz Ritosa Sastava Serviss (LDz RSS, LDz Rolling Stock Service).

The law enforcement authorities are not providing more extensive information in order to not hamper the investigation., an Internet portal run by Latvian daily Diena, reported Magonis is suspected of accepting a bribe worth 500,000 euros in connection with a tender for four diesel locomotives.

The tender was organised by the railway company's subsidiary, LDZ Ritosa Sastava Serviss, which was won by Estonian businessman Oleg Ossnovski's company, Skinest.

The old 2TE116-type diesel locomotives acquired as a result of the tender were in varying states. 

However, Diena reported each locomotive cost around two million euros, with two having been delivered up to now.

Officers of the Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau on August 6, conducted a search at Magonis' office and detained him in connection with the locomotive deal.

On August 7, Magonis was dismissed as head of Latvijas Dzelzcels and Avars Straksas. 

A member of Latvijas Dzelzcels, has been appointed as acting head of the company. 

Panorama, the evening news program on Latvian public television channel LTV1, reported on August 7 the anti-corruption officers had raided not only Magonis' office but also his property in the seaside municipality of Apsuciems. 

It was also reported the company's vice-president Edvins Berzins could replace Magonis as the next Latvijas Dzelzcels head.

Latvijas Dzelzcels is a state-owned company, involved in rail freight transportation by rail and the maintenance of infrastructure.

The use of the Baltic News Service information for commercial purposes is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of JSC BNS.