Corruption fighters sacked

  • 2008-04-18
  • Mike Collier in association with BNS

RIGA - The Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau(KNAB) has sacked two of its employees - over allegations that they had been pocketing money seized during raids.

KNAB chief Aleksejs Loskutovs told journalists on April 17 that the firedemployees had been tasked with keeping the money seized during searches, a task they proved rather too enthusiastic about, failing to return the full amount.

A criminal procedure was launched after it was discovered that some of theseized money was missing. The Prosecutor General's Office is supervisingthe probe.

A day before the announcement, the KNAB chief informed Latvian Prime Minister Ivars Godmanisabout the case.

Godmanis' spokesman Edgars Vaikulis told BNS, citing the premier, that theProsecutor General's Office, KNAB and the State Audit Office have to carryout the necessary actions to uncover the circumstances of thedisappearance and to prevent such cases in the future.

"The prime minister is not yet speaking about the responsibility of theKNAB chief and employees, but conclusions will be made after theinvestigation," the prime minister's spokesman said.

Loskutovs added that the sacked employees have not been detained. Thebreach was discovered while examining the amount of confiscated moneyregistered with KNAB. The KNAB chief noted that the two employees had beenworking at the bureau "for quite a long time".

Loskutovs admitted the issue was painful to him, because until now KNABhas been enjoying high public confidence.

For the time being authorities do not reveal more details about thecriminal probe that was launched Wednesday night, including the amount ofmoney missing from KNAB.

It is not the first time the corruption-busting outfit has been placed in an embarrassing position by its own staff.

Ilmars Balodis who used to hold a high-ranking post at the anti-corruptionbureau was accused of leaking confidential information connected with thebureau's investigation into a bribery case. In 2006, police caught KNAB official Indra Veipa driving under theinfluence of alcohol.