Businessman gunned down

  • 2009-04-22
  • By TBT Staff
RIGA - A 46 year old man Jurmala man alleged to have been involved in a money laundering scheme has been shot dead, possibly by a professional hitman, police have reported.
A man identified as Vjaceslavs Sturainis was shot following his daily visit to the gym near the Majori train station while stopped at a traffic light in his Porsche Cayenne.

Sturainis had been living in Jurmala as a businessman.
Criminal Police chief Rauls Kviesitis told the television program 900 seconds that it's possible the murderer is still in Latvia.

"We have been led to believe that those responsible for the murder are still in Latvia, and police are working on the case. In any case, even if they are not still here, we will still be working," said Kviesitis.
Police have indentified several possible motivations for the murder. The most plausible explanation is that it was carried out by a hit man, in relation to the man's work. Another theory is that the murder was personally motivated.

Following the murder, Jurmala police found an abandoned car, a Mazda 323, three kilometers from the scene of the crime, along with a Russian automatic gun, which may have been the murder weapon, reports Jurmala's police representative Evita Spalvena.
Russian language daily Telegraf reported unofficial information that the victim had been registered at the gym under the alias Vjaceslavs Vasiljevics. The victim had also been known as Vjaceslavs Denisovs. 
State Police also suspect the murder may have been connected to a money laundering scheme, uncovered by the State Revenue Service in April.

On April 7, VID Finance police department workers found a number of people connected to Sturainis to be involved in tax fraud and other criminal acts.
The criminal organization had been involved in various money laundering schemes as well as tax evasion since 2008, said the Finance department. The VID estimates about 7 million lats to be involved.
It's believed Sturainis was connected to the group, created in Russia in the town of Velikije Luki.
However, criminal proceedings against him were later dropped due to insufficient evidence, Russian language press reported.

Police suspect people who lost money as a result of VID's findings may have found Sturainis' presumed innocence in the matter motive enough for murder.
Sturainis' car was hit by 5 bullets, three through the driver's side window, and two in the door. An eyewitness said he was shot in the eye. A passenger in the car, known only as Viktors, escaped unharmed.
"We have found the car, which may have been the murderers; we've found the weapon which may have been the murder weapon. We've also found various items that experts are analyzing to see if they will give us any new information on the murderers," said Kviesitis. 

As the murder happened about 11:00 a.m., several witnesses saw the crime take place.
"The light was red, then two cars with Estonian plates, that had been in the right lane, drove up on the left, and a gun was fired from one of them and then sped away," said one eyewitness at the scene.
According to VID information the criminal group had a money laundering courier who insured the transferring of funds to Estonia and back to Latvia. The VID is also on the lookout for the head of the operation, known in criminal circles as "The Moldovan."

The VID finance police have confirmed they have information on the group's leaders and are pursuing them for money laundering and tax evasion.