RIGA - The Prosecutor General's Office has taken the next major step in the ongoing corruption case against Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs by ordering that his family's foreign assets be arrested.
The move, made last month, was confirmed by the investigating judge of the Riga Regional Court, according to Andrejs Vasks, a representative of the Prosecutor General's Office.
"[The decision] was to place under arrest all of Lembergs and his family members' foreign effects," he told The Baltic Times.
The daily Diena reported on Dec. 29 that the order covers assets held by Lembergs, his son Anrijs and his daughter Liga. The arrest of foreign assets includes bank accounts registered both directly and indirectly, and company shares registered abroad, including offshore companies.
The assets include a controlling stake in Ventbunkers, the biggest owner of the Netherlands-registered Yelverton Investment, the daily reports.
Vasks said that foreign companies are fully prepared to turn over Lembergs' assets.
"The informed foreign institutions have already given help to the criminal process and have expressed that they are already ready to do what is needed in the nearest time," he said.
This is the second time that the courts have arrested property belonging to Lembergs in connection with the ongoing scandal. In 2006, when bribery, extortion and money laundering charges were first brought against Lembergs, the court ordered part of his domestic real estate and bank accounts arrested.
Lembergs was originally detained in March last year in connection with a large-scale corruption investigation that has affected several Ventspils businessmen. He has been charged with fraud, extortion, money laundering and providing false income declarations. He was moved to house arrest at his property in Puze county on July 10 due to failing health.