Paunins to resign over Maxima tragedy

  • 2014-06-04
  • From wire report

RIGA - Construction company Re&Re’s CEO, Ainars Paunins, has decided to resign sometime during the next 12 months and says he is ready to face the consequences if found guilty in the Zolitude Maxima roof collapse tragedy, Paunins said in an interview with the business daily Dienas bizness. Paunins will continue work on company strategy.
“The decision to resign from the executive position has been made. I will leave office during the next 12 months. I do regret this decision, as I feel still young and competent; however, I believe this to be the right choice,” he said.
“I share responsibility for what happened, because nothing like this should have happened. It must not be repeated,” emphasized the CEO, explaining that since the tragedy, the company has been double checking everything at its construction sites.

According to Paunins, the weak link that caused the collapse of the Maxima supermarket’s roof was the lack of state control over the construction process. Paunins stresses that in the past there was the State Construction Inspection, which was competent in carrying out inspections of large public facilities.
“I believe that the lack of such an institution was one of the reasons why the project’s documents were not in complete order. Of course, we also have to discuss the current situation in the construction sector, which is also one of the reasons for this tragedy,” Paunins says.
On Nov. 21, 54 people lost their lives when the roof of a Maxima supermarket in Zolitude collapsed.

Moral hazard
On May 10, Riga Zemgale District Court accepted a lawsuit filed by three private individuals against Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs (Harmony Center) and CEO Paunins, reported LETA.
Charges against Usakovs were filed for his “incompetent actions” to identify and hold responsible the perpetrators of the Zolitude tragedy. The claimants also want Paunins to pay the Zolitude tragedy victims moral compensation for his actions. This includes, for instance, his vacationing in the Maldives while the funeral for those killed in the roof collapse was held in Riga.

The claimants want Usakovs and Paunins to offer their apologies; the claim also states that Paunins and Usakovs have failed to do everything they could in order to reduce the emotional suffering of the victims.
Instead of solving the various problems in the wake of the collapse and holding his employees accountable, the claim states, Paunins was attending various entertainment events, including a fashion show.
Usakovs, on the other hand, did not take responsibility for the Construction Board he was in charge of and did not make the board officials answer for their failure to ensure safety of the people at the site and during the construction process.
The mayor also failed to establish a quality control system to prevent poorly constructed buildings from opening. He also put personal needs above the Zolitude tragedy, say the claimants.