Police arrest assets of businessmen detained in connection with Bunkus' murder

  • 2022-06-08
  • LETA/TBT Staff

RIGA - Police have arrested the assets of businessmen Mihails Ulmans and Aleksandrs Babenko who have been detained in connection with the murder of insolvency lawyer Martins Bunkus.

According to information available at Firmas.lv, law enforcement authorities have arrested 1,235,746 shares worth EUR 8,650,222 held by Ulmans in Mono company. 

Police have also arrested Babenko's 2,428,348 shares in Gruodis worth EUR 2,428,348. 

In both cases the assets have been arrested to ensure the financing of procedural costs and compensations to the injured parties, as well as confiscation of property as a possible additional penalty.  

According to Firmas.lv, Ulmans is involved in numerous businesses. From 2015 to 2017 he was a co-owner of Mego retail company. At present, 60 percent of Mego shares belong to Gruodis whose sole owner is Babenko. 

Ulmans holds a 49.43 percent stake in Mono whose other shareholders are US citizen Alexander Plotkin (32.67 percent) and Kajems Biomins (17.9 percent). Mono is the sole owner of LPB Bank, which in late 2021 was the 11th largest bank in Latvia by assets. LPB Bank posted a EUR 5.507 million profit for 2021.

In the financial year 2019/2020 Mono turned over EUR 1.657 million, which is 4.1 times less than a year before, and sustained a loss of EUR 260,347 in contrast to an EUR 8.968 million profit made a year before. The company has yet to release its last year's results. 

As reported, at the end of May, Riga City Vidzeme District Court ruled to remand Ulmans, Babenko and one more suspect in custody. The businessmen appealed their detention to Riga Regional Court. 

On May 24, the State Police announced that they had managed to establish practically all persons involved in the murder of Bunkus, including the hitman who shot and killed the lawyer and the person who ordered the murder. The hitman and the person who ordered the murder were among several persons taken under arrest on May 24.

The case has been requalified to a criminal case on a murder committed in especially aggravating circumstances if it has been committed by an organized group. Such a crime carries a life sentence or 15-20 years in jail.

Bunkus' family members earlier had mentioned Ulmans' name in relation to the murder. In 2016 he had an argument with Bunkus in the case of Rego Trade insolvency case.

As reported, Rego Trade food wholesaler was declared insolvent in spring 2008. Bunkus as the insolvency administrator established that the former board members - Mihails Ulmans, Aleksandrs Budovskis and Dans Vapne - had embezzled the company's assets prior to insolvency and turned to the court to recover the money.

In 2012 the Latvian Supreme Court satisfied the insolvency administrator's claim and ruled that Ulmans had to pay back to the company LVL 265,626 (EUR 377,952). Rego Trade still has the rights of claim against Budovskis for EUR 192,055 and against Vapne for EUR 204,145, and Bunkus planned to sell those rights of claim at the auctions on May 30 but cancelled the auctions at the last moment on May 29, just a day before he was killed.

BNS also reported, Bunkus was shot while driving his vehicle on the morning of May 30, 2018, when he drove past the Riga Forest Cemetery.

A burned vehicle with fake number plates was later found, which was most likely involved in the murder.