Court slams Greens with fine

  • 2005-01-26
  • By TBT staff
RIGA - An administrative district court ruled on Jan. 20 that the Latvian Green Party must transfer 6,455 lats (9,282 euros) in cash donations to the Finance Ministry, while dismissing the party's complaint against the state's anti-corruption bureau.

Previously turning to the courts had worked for the Greens' political partner, the Farmers Union, whose large donations had drawn the attention of state investigators. The Farmers Union was able to successfully defeat the Corruption Prevention and Control Bureau, although another investigation - into the alleged forging of documents 's is still under way.

State law prohibits cash donations of more than 100 lats. Bank limits are up to 10,000 lats.

Bureau chief Aleksejs Loskutovs said the judgment showed that the bureau had the right to monitor illegal donations. "The decision acknowledges one obvious fact: the law establishes that the anti-corruption bureau has the right to control political party financing, which means also that the bureau has the right to demand fulfillment of the law, respectively, the repayment of illegal donations," he said.

The Green Party will have 30 days to appeal the decision to the state's Supreme Court.

Yet despite the bureau's victory, they lost in another judicial decision against Latvia's Way over 4,000 lats in alleged illegal donations. While the court found that the donations had been made illegally, the libertarian party was not forced to hand them over due to a legal mistake.

According to the anti-corruption bureau, Latvia's Way benefited from third-party financing, where donations were made in someone else's name. Yet the court upheld the victory for the political party. The anti-corruption bureau has 20 days to appeal the decision.

Media have recently reported that Transport Minister Ainars Slesers may have pressured Juris Dambis, head of the state's Cultural Monument Inspection Commission, to approve a construction project at the department store Universalveikals. This would lead to the closure of Ridzenes Street in the Old Town.

Initially the state commission opposed the project, yet after Slesers me with Dambis and then Culture Minister Inguna Ribena, the decision was reversed, leading to charges of political pressure.

UNESCO officials have pilloried the project, saying it threatens the city's status as a world heritage site. What's more, the anti-corruption bureau is considering opening a probe into whether Slesers exerted pressure while deputy prime minister.

Since Loskutovs assumed leadership at the anti-corruption bureau, many of the high-profile investigations have lost momentum. And due to a lackluster showing in court, criticism of the bureau has emerged.

In an article recently published on, a public policy Web site, titled "CPCB: Does this dog just bark at parties or does it also bite?" author Arta Snipe listed some of the bureau's failures as well as provided some suggestions where they could improve. If it doesn't, "The CPCB will remain a growling dog that does not know how to use its teeth for biting," she wrote.