Latvenergo bribery case expands

  • 2013-01-23
  • From wire reports

SELF-SERVING: Investigators say Latvenergo employees abused their positions for personal gain.

RIGA - The Latvian Prosecutor General’s Office is planning to bring charges against 15 more persons in the so-called Latvenergo bribery case, reports LETA. The prosecutor’s office received the extraordinarily voluminous case from the Corruption Prevention Bureau last September, and two of the 17 suspects listed were charged that same month. The names of these persons have still not been disclosed to the public.

Although usually the prosecutor’s office brings charges against suspects within ten days after receiving a case, this time was different due to the enormous scale, the prosecutor office’s press secretary Aiga Senberga said.
A pre-trial investigation is being conducted by two highly experienced prosecutors, Maris Leja and Viorika Jirgena.
Bringing charges against the accused will not be the end of it, however, because the prosecutor’s office will also prepare the case to be sent to a court, which may also take a long time.

According to the Corruption Prevention Bureau, Latvenergo officials and employees, in abuse of office and motivated by personal gain, accepted large bribes and, in turn, ensured that the company made decisions in favor of several foreign companies, registered in Spain, Turkey and Sweden, in several Latvenergo public procurement and reconstruction contracts. This is proven by evidence that the bureau’s investigators found.

Based on consulting agreements signed by go-between companies and the foreign companies, Latvenergo officials and staff members were paid large amounts of money for signing contracts with the foreign companies, implementation of these contracts, and observing non-disclosure provisions stipulated in these contracts. The go-between in fact managed money that was to be given to Latvenergo officials for their illegal activity.
The bribery affair was implemented through a money laundering scheme via a number of companies registered in Latvia and abroad, which involved various money transfers, property deals and investments in companies that belonged to Latvenergo officials and the consulting company’s owner.

The Corruption Prevention Bureau listed 17 persons, including six officials, as suspects in the case. They include former Latvenergo President Karlis Mikelsons who was detained in June 2010 but released in August of the same year on 50,000 lats (71,400 euro) bail, as well as his deputy Aigars Melko and Sadales tikls CEO Ivars Liuziniks and his deputy Andrejs Stalazs.

Daugavpils businessman Mihails Paladijs was detained in July 2010, and his 100 percent shares in Buvenergoserviss company were arrested. The company previously won various Latvenergo contracts.
Another suspect is consultant Andrejs Livanovics, whose company Energy Consulting acted as an agent for the Swiss company AF Colenco, which consulted Latvenergo on the reconstruction of the Riga 2nd cogeneration plant - a project worth millions of lats. The branch office of AF Colenco in Latvia has the same address as the private home of the Livanovics in Marupe County.