New KNAB head by year end

  • 2008-10-29
  • By Monika Hanley
RIGA - The Latvian government has announced that it will provide a candidate for the controversial post of head of the anti-corruption bureau by year's end.
Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis' spokesman Edgars Vaikulis told reporters that no term has been decided yet for the contender and the government still has to discuss it. The prime minister however, expects that the KNAB head should be selected by the end of this year.
Vaikulis said that, according to the newly-adopted instructions for selection of KNAB head, there are terms set for the prosecutor general, the Constitution Protection Bureau and the Supreme Court to provide their opinions on the candidate for the position.

Former KNAB chief Aleksejs Loskutovs was dismissed from the position by Latvian parliament in June after two employees of the anti-corruption agency were caught stealing the bureau's money.
A previous attempt to sack Loskutovs resulted in massive protests that eventually forced then Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis out of office.
The Latvian government on Oct. 21 adopted the rule for the procedure for selection of the head of KNAB, saying that the government must determine the application term.

The applications are to be submitted to the State Chancellery, which will then register the applications and run inspections and background checks to see whether the candidates meet the criteria set by the law on KNAB as well as the additional requirements set forth by the newly adopted instructions for selection.
The prime minister will ask the opinion of the prosecutor general, the Constitution Protection Bureau head and the Supreme Court chairman on the candidates who meet the above-mentioned criteria.

Despite things moving forward, the process is still marred by controversy surrounding the way Loskutovs was dismissed. The controversy stems from the fact that Prime Minister Godmanis dismissed him and it was not in his duties to do so, since only the parliament can fire the head of the anti-corruption bureau.
"After the statutes of KNAB (5.paragraph 7. section), the Cabinet of Ministers must asses the work first. To actually fire a worker of KNAB, they have to create a special commission with an order [legal document] to create a commission, which can then decide what to do with the employee" said a law professor at the University of Latvia.

Regardless of the legality of the issue surrounding Loskutovs, plans to have a new KNAB chief by the end of the year are in full swing, and Godmanis is confident that the government will be able to find a worthy candidate.


The debate over whether the candidate should be a politician or a professional is still hot. Rogers, a mechanic for Riga's Shipyard, said that "the contender should be professional. We've all seen what happens when we let politicians do that job."
Sandra, a baker also backed this view. "I think that someone who is right for the job will not be a politician, but someone who cares about the job."
But other respondents said that these sorts of examples of corruption are not limited to just KNAB.
"It is a similar situation to what is going on with the State Auditor's Office in terms of bookeeping not being quite right," said security guard Ivars. 

Some people had a more optimistic view of the entire organization, saying that someday perhaps it will not be needed.
Nils a translator in Riga said, "KNAB may not be necessary after some time because people would get used to the new order that corruption isn't the norm. But that's fairly utopean these days."