RIGA - The entire ‘Vaskevics affair,’ where the controversial Finance Ministry civil servant Vladimirs Vaskevics is able to retain a high-ranking position within the state administration, demonstrates the pervasive nature of corruption in Latvia, according to a confidential wire from U.S. diplomats released by WikiLeaks,’ reports LETA. The telegram, dated November 14, 2008, from the U.S. Embassy in Riga, comments on Vaskevics’ appointment to a different position within the State Revenue Service after he was banned from access to state secrets and could not serve as the director of the Revenue Service’s Customs Criminal Administration.
“The fact that Vaskevics’ ‘punishment’ for losing his clearance was a promotion and a pay raise, demonstrates the pervasive nature of corruption in Latvia,” the U.S. Embassy telegram points out.
“The Latvian public largely shakes their head at such developments and continues to accept that ‘this is how things work,’ which underscores the challenge of changing the system,” the telegram goes on to say.
The U.S. Embassy in Riga also points out in the wire that if the prosecutor presses charges in the near future, and a court convicts and sentences Vaskevics, this case would be a significant step in fighting corruption by state officials for the Corruption Prevention Bureau and the Prosecutor General’s Office.
“But, there are far too many steps before a conviction to call it a done deal. With appeals, stalling techniques and continued individual attacks on those involved in the case through the State Revenue Service, the process will certainly take months, if not years, to play out, during which time Vaskevics will likely retain his job, or at least his salary,” the telegram says.
In 2007, Vaskevics, who was the State Revenue Service’s Customs Criminal Administration director at the time, was completely banned from access to state secrets by the Constitutional Protection Bureau. Vaskevics unsuccessfully appealed the decision.
In September 2008, the equally-controversial head of the State Revenue Service - Dzintars Jakans - appointed Vaskevics as his deputy. That same year, the Corruption Prevention Bureau submitted a criminal process to the Prosecutor General’s Office to begin criminal proceedings against Vaskevics for illegal involvement in property deals and providing false information in his income declaration.
In 2011, Vaskevics was taken into custody on suspicion of attempting to bribe a State Revenue Service official.