Prosecutors throw out foreigner fraud cases

  • 2008-10-01
  • By Monika Hanley
RIGA - Riga Central District Prosecutor's Office has cancelled over 50 fraud cases filed by foreigners with the Latvian National Police. 
Andrejs Vasks, the spokesman for the Prosecutor's Office, told The Baltic Times "the cases were strongly lacking evidence and general substantiation in the claims received."
Vasks explained to BNS that the Riga Central District Prosecutor's Office performed an inspection of the work of the police investigation units from April 1 until Aug 1, found 50 ungrounded refusals to initiate the criminal procedure in the cases where foreigners were the victims.

When asked about statistics regarding overall successfully initiated fraud cases, Vasks told TBT that "despite having individual statistics per region, they have no overall statistics."
He went on to say that "although we have statistics by region and on certain establishments, it is hard to say how many fraud cases we have received in the last year."  
The Central District Prosecutor's Office cancelled these refusals, initiated the criminal procedure on the cases and submitted them for investigation at the central division of Riga Regional Police Department. The criminal procedure on the cases was initiated pursuant to the section of the Criminal law on economic crime.
The punishment for fraud against buyers and customers according to this section of the law amounts to five years in jail.

Among the decisions is the case of two German policemen who were swindled after a rest in Old Riga and applied to the police, which resulted in the refusal of Latvian colleagues help.
The Prosecutor's Office also found several cases of ungrounded refusal to initiate the case of stealing from foreigners.

Most of the victims of fraud were tourists from Scandinavian countries and Germany. The sums, possibly defrauded, fluctuate from hundreds to several thousands of lats. There is a case when a foreigner was forced to withdraw 17,000 euro from a cash dispenser.

Police have had to have been involved more often in solving arguments related to bill payments at the clubs of Old Riga in the recent years. Drunken foreigners often have conflicts with club personnel over inadequate drink bills which can turn violent.
The Latvian Prosecutor's General Office has received complaints from a multitude of foreign embassies regarding these arguments. The victims say that police in Latvia do not accept complaints from foreigners, who are cheated in bars and restaurants.

In late July 2008, during the National Police biannual meeting, Eriks Zvejnieks, the chief prosecutor of the Criminal rights department of the General Prosecutor's Office, urged the policemen not to be afraid to accept the complaints, to assess the situation and to initiate the criminal procedure where applicable.
Despite the refusals, the work of the Riga police department has had good results. In mid July, the police department held three employees of a nightclub in Old Riga for extortion of money from German nationals for settling their bills. The incident broke out when a waitress brought an approximately 100 lats (142 euro) bill for drinks, yet, the visitors retained their grip and refused to pay for the drinks they have not ordered.

Later, several club employees started extorting money from the foreigners, attempting even the use of force for that reason. The police patrol nearby got involved in the matter and held the nightclub personnel on the suspicion of extortion.