Corruption rife in customs service

  • 2011-02-16
  • From wire reports

RIGA - Corruption within customs is systematic and widespread on all levels, the Corruption Prevention Bureau concluded a year ago in compiling information on risks within law enforcement authorities, Latvian State Television’s show de facto reported on Feb. 13, reports news agency LETA. Altogether during the past seven years, the Corruption Prevention Bureau forwarded to prosecutors 11 criminal cases where 21 State Revenue Service officials were charged.

“Some of the criminal cases suggest that corruption exists within the Revenue Service, that is, employees give bribes to each other to conceal information that a colleague has made a decision that is against the law; they also cover up for each other and do not report violations to authorities,” said Corruption Prevention Bureau’s chief public relations officer, Ieva Karlsberga.

The investigation established that, for instance, customs officers at the Terehova border checkpoint constantly used a mobile phone for harmonizing corruption deals which were handed from one shift to the next.
The Corruption Prevention Bureau says that much has been done within the Revenue Service to reduce the risk of corruption, but several problems still need to be resolved. The bureau hopes that the arrest of Vladimirs Vaskevics, former deputy director of the Finance Ministry’s Tax and Customs Administrative Policy Department, for giving bribes to possibly customs chief Talis Kravalis, will make the Revenue Service officials take action.

The Revenue Service’s Public Relations Department head, Agnese Grinberga, said that no extra corruption prevention measures had taken place at the Revenue Service in the two weeks since the arrest of Vaskevics. “There was always corruption, it is and it will be,” she said.

The Corruption Prevention Bureau has concluded that only 32 customs officers have been trained on corruption prevention measures the past two years, which makes up only 2 percent of all employees in customs. The bureau also says that one of the main reasons contributing to corruption at the Revenue Service is low salaries and shortcomings in the service’s staffing policy.