Parliamentary chairman under fire

  • 2007-08-29
  • By Talis Saule Archdeacon

A BIG LOSER? Emsis claims to have lost a large amount of cash in the Cabinet of Ministers building; anti-corruption officials are investigating.

RIGA - The Prosecutor General's office may soon lodge a request with Parliament to revoke immunity from prosecution from parliamentary chairman Indulis Emsis, who has admitted to carrying a large sum of cash in his briefcase while on the job.
The online version of the magazine Republika.lv ran a story on Aug. 24 claiming that Emsis has fallen under suspicion of having accepted unreported cash income and giving false information to law-enforcement institutions. He could be charged with one or both of these offenses, the magazine reported.
Emsis refused to comment on the case in a short telephone conversation with Republika.lv, citing an agreement he signed with prosecutors barring him from disclosing information related to ongoing investigations.

Emsis and his assistant, Viesturs Silenieks, who reportedly gave the cash to the chairman, have already submitted evidence along with their testimonies to KNAB, the state's anti-corruption bureau.
He added that he would report the magazine's reporters to the prosecutor's office for possible interference in the case.
Emsis, a former prime minister and member of the Greens and Farmers Union, is one of the most influential figures in Latvian politics.

According to Republika.lv, shortly after taking office Emsis lost a briefcase containing $10,000 in cash from the Cabinet of Ministers building. When the briefcase turned up, law-enforcement officials found that it only contained $6,500.
The theft was reported, and investigators eventually learned that a waiter in the building's cafe had stolen the cash.

After the money was found, Republika.lv reported that Emsis submitted a signed police report claiming that the briefcase had in fact only contained $6,500. KNAB reportedly launched an investigation into the incident after questions arose as to why the speaker was carrying around so much cash.
Emsis and his assistant supposedly claimed that he had borrowed the money in order to buy a new tractor for his farm. He also explained that after receiving the money he had an unplanned meeting with coalition partners in the Cabinet building, which explains how the money turned up there.
After the meeting, Emsis realized that he had forgotten his briefcase. Law enforcement officials believe that the money was for other purposes.

Republika.lv noted in the article that it was "interesting" how the incident allegedly took place shortly after Aivars Lembergs, Emsis' fellow party member and Ventspils mayor, was detained on charges of corruption, suggesting that the cash could have been "hush money."
Emsis is one of 15 or so former and current lawmakers who have been summoned for questioning in relation to the case involving Lembergs, who has been detained on suspicion of bribery and money laundering on a massive scale.
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