RIGA - The Latvian Corruption Prevention Bureau has submitted evidence in a criminal case against newly appointed Jurmala Mayor Girts Trencis to the Jurmala Prosecutor's Office, calling for criminal prosecution.
Trencis, who took office only a month ago, is the latest in a string of Jurmala mayors accused of corruption.
Trencis replaced former mayor Raimonds Munkevics, who was dismissed for his inability to meet the city's budget due to irresponsible spending. City council members worried the spending could lead to a lack of resources for social benefits and wages.
Anti-corruption bureau investigators decided that Trencis, during his time in office as the head of the Jurmala City Council Economy and Development Department, was the only representative of the city council responsible for the municipal shares in the "Jurmala's Hospital Company," and had the right to act on behalf of the company's shareholder.
The claim also states that he abused his power and his decisions went against the law on prevention of wasting of state and municipal assets, Diana Kurpniece, head of the Corruption Prevention Bureau Public Relations Department, told the LETA news agency.
The anti-corruption bureau's evidence against Trencis shows that in March 2008, during a Jurmala's Hospital shareholders meeting, Trencis, the only representative of the Jurmala City Council at the meeting, made the decision to endorse a settlement agreement with an individual that cost the hospital 23,600 lats.
The anti-corruption bureau claims that Trencis unilaterally made a decision that should have been a decision made by the city council.
The settlement agreement, however, stipulated that the person in question would have to compensate the company 11,000 lats less than the total amount of damages, therefore Jurmala's Hospital and the Jurmala budget sustained a loss of no less than 12,600 lats.
The agreement of settlement goes against the law, the anti-corruption bureau said.
The anti-corruption bureau claims that Trencis should be charged with exceeding his official authority.
If found guilty and convicted, Trencis may be sentenced to up to five years in prison or community service, or face a penalty of up to 100 minimum monthly wages. He may also be banned from running for public office for up to three years.
Mid-October, Trencis visited the anti-corruption bureau headquarters and was told he had the status of a "suspect" in the criminal case where Juris Tracums, former chairman of the board at Jurmala's Hospital Company, is accused of misuse of power.
Trencis explained in an interview with LNT television that Tracums had possibly embezzled 23,000 lats, while the settlement agreement he later signed with the Jurmala City Council stipulated the return of 11,000 lats.
This past June, the Riga Regional Court overturned a Jurmala Court decision to close the criminal case and to endorse the May 6 agreement of settlement between Tracums and Jurmala's Hospital Company. Tracums' attorney Normunds Dulevskis said that the Jurmala Court made the right decision, because Tracums paid all the money the company claimed.
The prosecutor's office nevertheless lodged an appeal. The Riga Regional Court ruled that the Jurmala Court would have to review the case again, but it will be assigned to another judge.
Tracums was charged with violation of restrictions imposed on a state official in August 2007. The applicable sentence is up to three years in prison or a fine of up to 50 minimum monthly wages.
The Corruption Prevention Bureau opened the criminal case against Tracums in April 2007.
The Corruption Prevention Bureau determined during the investigation that Tracums, a senior official at Jurmala's Hospital Company, had violated the law in ordering the payment of hefty bonuses to himself from 1999 to 2004.
He also allegedly made other unilateral decisions on behalf of the company that were in his personal interest. Overall, Tracums' violations allegedly caused the company a loss of 33,367 lats.