Slesers maintains silence

  • 2011-11-02
  • From wire reports

RIGA - There is no reason to worry about an insufficient amount and quality of evidence in the so-called ‘oligarch case,’ Prosecutor General Eriks Kalnmeiers said in an interview with Latvian State Television program ‘De facto,’ reports LETA. It is necessary to prove that the tapped conversations involving Ainars Slesers are authentic, which will be done if the investigation collects enough evidence.

Searches were carried out to achieve this, and, as a result, various contracts and documents were seized, said Kalnmeiers.
The prosecutor’s office is concerned about international cooperation, which is important not only regarding this case, but also within the investigation of several other cases. International cooperation is not always successful, even on the EU level. Sometimes Latvia does not receive the requested information about offshore companies quickly enough, and it may also be insufficient.

Commenting on the investigation, Kalnmeiers pointed out that there is no reason to believe that it would be hindered or lacking quality. The criminal process was launched in May, the investigation’s deadlines are normal.
At the same time, Kalnmeiers explained that the Corruption Prevention Bureau is currently investigating several complicated and voluminous cases, but its resources are limited. The prosecutor general believes that the bureau should hire more employees to deal with its cases.

Slesers, the “protagonist” in the so-called ‘Ridzene’ talks, does not question the authenticity of the tape recorded conversations aired by the ‘De facto’ television show, but he is trying to downplay the content, claiming that it was simply talk about future plans.
The Bulldozer, Slesers, admits in an interview with ‘De facto’ that he wished to buy a company’s shares. “Some talk about women, others talk about hunting. Of course, there has been some bluffing,” Slesers told the TV show, adding that “some stupid things are said deliberately now and then.”

The ex-minister also categorically denies that the leaked talk allegedly reveals that he actually owns shares in several companies, including Rigas tirdzniecibas osta (Riga Commercial Port, RTO). “If I had any illegalities in mind, believe me, any such conversations would not have taken place at Ridzene Hotel,” says Slesers, insisting that no violations of the law were implied.

Nevertheless, Slesers refuses to answer any specific questions about what was said in the conversation, for instance, operations of the newspaper Diena. “I do not want to comment. If a camera was set up in your bedroom, or bathroom, or elsewhere - there may be various contexts why someone says something. I want no part in this craze; I am not a state official, I do not have to answer questions.”

‘De facto’ notes that none of the persons involved in the ‘Ridzene’ talks denies visiting the hotel to meet with the ex-minister to discuss operations of the given enterprises, but none has said why this was done.
One of the most frequent visitors at Ridzene Hotel was the RTO CEO Ralfs Klavins, who says that at these meetings he only introduced Slesers to developments in his line of business. “I can only confirm that Slesers is not an RTO shareholder, he has not participated in RTO shareholders’ meetings,” Klavins told ‘De facto.’ When the TV show inquires if Slesers is or is not the true owner of RTO, Klavins only says, “I have no information if he could be considered, in any way, to be a true beneficiary.”
‘De facto’ points out that Slesers is not denying that company shares that he might buy were also discussed during the meetings at Ridzene Hotel. “I, as a private individual who wants to take care of his future, have the right to think what I will be doing, where I will invest money, and so on,” comments Slesers.

On the other hand, Klavins tells ‘De facto’ that not everything that Slesers says should be taken for granted, because Slesers tends to make “grand plans.” When prompted by the TV show why in one of these meetings Klavins and Slesers discussed making use of the Switzerland-registered Zein Holding so Slesers could acquire RTO shares, which Klavins described during the meeting as an “elegant scheme,” Klavins replies that he would not want to comment on any excerpts.
Meanwhile, the current owner of Diena, Viesturs Koziols - who participated in the meetings with Slesers most often - is angered at the leaked excerpts from the taped conversations. Koziols refuses to reply to any questions regarding the material.
Koziols emphasizes that the leaked material has been heavily edited, which is unfair, he believes, adding that if they were to be made public, this should have been done in full.

He insists that the companies mentioned in his meetings with Slesers belong to him, Koziols, and that he is not planning to sell the Swiss company. As to what was said at the meetings, that is easy to explain: Slesers often treats his future plans as if they have already been implemented. That is why Slesers sometimes speaks of his future visions in the past or present tense, says Koziols.

‘De facto’ also reported that, after reading about the leaked conversations from Ridzene, many of the businesspersons who participated in the establishment of For a Good Latvia (PLL) political party now feel bitter and used by politicians.
Financial and management consulting company Konsorts’ President Uldis Osis emphasizes that PLL was established to pursue businessmen’s interests, but this never happened. “I believe that Slesers and [former Prime Minister Andris] Skele have used the business movement in their own interest, because they would have hardly been able to do anything without this movement.” Osis says that many of the original founders of the movement feel bitterly disappointed now.