RIGA - Controversial transcripts of phone conversations by New Era's Guntis Piteronoks, the party's representative in the eastern city of Rezekne's council, have once again raised allegations of systemic corruption among Latvian politicians.
According to the Neatkariga daily, which published a transcript of the conversation on Aug. 9, the text suggests that politicians were trying to convince law enforcement authorities to hide certain crimes.
Neatkariga quoted "unofficial sources" as saying that Security Police had recorded the conversations a couple of days before the municipal elections in Rezekne last August. At the same time, financial police were carrying out an inspection at Rezeknes Galas Kombinats, were Piteronoks is board chairman.
Some days before the municipal elections, an inspection was carried out at the meat processing plant after the State Revenue Service received information about illegal production. During the inspection it was uncovered that some 21,000 lats (30,500 euros) of unaccounted expenses were recorded. In addition, 20 tons of unaccounted product was discovered.
"Piteronoks' phone conversations not only confirm the facts that are known to the public but also show some other aspects that have been hidden from society," commented Neatkariga, a paper supported by Aivars Lembergs, the besieged Ventspils mayor who is continually the target of New Era's political commentary (see story on this page).
The newspaper went on to report that Piteronoks had informed other people, including a person whose voice was similar to that of Karlis Sadurskis, New Era's faction leader, that the financial police had confiscated a "small note-book" recording party and election campaign expenses.
The Finance Police arrived at the meat plant late on Aug. 17, 2005.
Head of Security Police Janis Reiniks said the police "had carried out monitoring within the limits of their competence."
State Revenue Service spokeswoman Agnese Grinberga added that the criminal proceedings launched were still underway, and that more detailed information would be available this week.
Neatkariga journalists did not manage to speak with Piteronoks as he was on a vacation.
Last year the politician stepped down from New Era during an investigation into illegal production discovered at Rezeknes Galas Kombinats.