Latvian Supreme Courts rules on bankruptcy case

  • 2007-02-14
  • By TBT Staff
RIGA - The Latvian Supreme court has sentenced Aleksandrs Lavents, a defendant in a criminal case over the malicious bankruptcy of Banka Baltija bank, to a seven year and seven month jail term plus confiscation of property. Co- defendant Talis Freimanis was sentenced to six years in jail plus confiscation of property.

The second co-defendant, Alvis Lidums, was sentenced to a three year and three month jail term. On Wednesday the court completed the investigation and began deliberations in the case.
The defendants are accused of misrepresentation of accounting data and fictitious entrepreneurship, in addition to a number of other crimes.

The prosecutor had asked the Latvian Supreme Court to sentence Lavents to 13 years in jail and that the court sentence Freimanis to two years in jail and Lidums to six years in prison.
Prosecution also demanded the confiscation of their property. In Lavents and Freimanis' case, prosecution asked the court to impose a five-year ban on doing any business.

The court imposed on Lavents and Freimanis the requested five-year ban on doing business. The court also ruled in favor of a claim by Latvenegro Energy Company demanding 8 million lats (11.38 million euros) from the defendants.
Both the defendants and the prosecutor's office appealed the court ruling.
The defendants had previously been to trial on similar charges.

The Riga Regional Court heard the case in the first instance in late 2001, and sentenced Lavents to nine years in jail and Freimanis to six ears in jail. Lidums was sentenced to three years and three months in jail.
After the European Court of Human Rights found that Lavents' rights had been violated during the first trial of the Banka Baltija case, the Supreme Court's Senate sent the case for re-trial in a district court by a different panel of judges. The decision was taken because the previous composition of the jury was found to be illegal. That trial began in October 2003.
In May 2005 the Riga Regional Court sentenced the three defendants in the Banka Baltija case to prison terms that they had already served while in pre-trial custody.

The defendants were found guilty on more than 50 counts, and acquitted on about ten counts.
Previously, Lavents and Freimanis were charged with sabotage, misappropriation of depositors' money, falsification of accounting reports, fictitious business and malicious bankruptcy. Lidums was charged as accomplice to large-scale misappropriation.
Total damages from the incident were estimated to be 204.17 million lats.
Banka Baltija was a major Latvian bank whose unexpected collapse in 1995 led to a banking crisis in the country. Experts have estimated that about 120,000 depositors lost over 110 million lats when the bank went bust.