Latvian tax chief tenders resignation; finmin asks to reconsider her decision

  • 2016-05-30

Inara Petersone, director-general of the State Revenue Service, has tendered resignation to Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola (Greens/Farmers), the minister’s adviser Arno Pjatkins confirmed to LETA.

He said that Petersone submitted her resignation letter to Reizniece-Ozola this evening, but that the minister did not accept it. “The Revenue Service’s head arrived at the ministry tonight and tendered resignation. The minister, however, did not accept it, asking Petersone to reconsider her decision,” Pjatkins said.

Neither Petersone, nor Reizniece-Ozola, were answering telephone calls.

After her meeting with Reizniece-Ozola last week, Petersone said that she was not going to stand down, although she claimed that she and the Revenue Service had become targets of a smear campaign.

During last week’s meeting, Petersone and Reizniece-Ozola discussed the anonymous accusations, planned staff rotations at the Revenue Service, and other current issues.

Reizniece-Ozola said after the meeting that Petersone had not arrived to her with a resignation letter. The minister said that she, too, had received anonymous information slandering Petersone and the Revenue Service.

Andrejs Vaivars, a spokesman for Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis, told BNS that Petersone’s decision to step down was reasonable.

"Psychologically, the resignation of the State Revenue Service's head Inara Petersone can be understood — the changes that are today taking place at the Revenue Service are psychologically tough, many are discontented and it is no secret that as head of the State Revenue Service, Petersone is encountering internal resistance. Surely, the State Revenue Service must carry through with its reforms," the prime minister's spokesman said.

Petersone first said she might leave her office in an interview published last week in the Latvijas Avize newspaper. Speaking about the anonymous letter circulated last week which revealed the properties owned by Petersone's family, she stated: “I have taken this into account. At the same time, I allow the possibility of doing something else with my life and allow someone else try to steer this ship. Three years is a lot in this work, and only those who have been in this position understand this.”

At the same time, Petersone admitted in the interview that there have been attempts to influence her decisions in regards to the rotation of employees.

“I allow the possibility that some working within the Revenue Service do not want to be rotated, and that some of these persons could be involved in the recent illegal business schemes we have uncovered,” she said.

Petersone also said in the interview that she has made all of her decisions independently, but that she discussed the rotations with the SRS's Internal Security head Gita Plaude, whom she trusts. “And as long as I remain in my post, it is unlikely somebody will be able to influence my decisions,” she added.

As reported, unknown persons, or a group of persons, are attempting a smear campaign against State Revenue Service General Director Inara Petersone.

LETA has been sent a letter whose authors call themselves “us, the Revenue Service collective.” In the letter, the authors point to the properties owned by Petersone and her family, as well as claim that her lifestyle does not match her income. However, the letter's authors do not include any kind of proof, only assumptions. They also said in the letter that they plan to continue releasing information about Petersone.

“I do not have specific information who are the authors of this letter which has been sent to LETA. At the same time, I connect this with the recent changes at the Revenue Service, was has likely impeded the dishonest activities of some,” Petersone told LETA.

The Revenue Service head has informed Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola (Greens/Farmers) about the letter, as well as Corruption Prevention Bureau Chief Jaroslavs Strelcenoks.

LETA also reported, in total, 39 State Revenue Service employees, including 22 managers, have been rotated — 18 managers have been rotated to other positions within the Revenue Service, and four other managers will work in other structures.

Petersone had been ordered by Reizniece-Ozola to identify and get rid of dishonest Revenue Service officers, as well as rotate the heads and deputy heads of four Revenue Service's departments. In the future rotations will take place regularly.

Petersone became head of the State Revenue Service on October 22, 2013. She was nominated for the position at the recommendation of the then finance minister Andris Vilks (Unity).

A press briefing has been called at the Revenue Service tomorrow, May 31, in connection with the news, the Revenue Service's spokespeople told BNS.