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Wednesday 17.01.2018 | Name days: Tenis, Dravis

Digital TV case: trail from Malta leads all the way to Šķēle’s «clouds»

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUMalta files or the leaked materials from Malta’s Registry of Companies show that changes have been added to the ownership structure in Digital International Limited (DIL), which is involved in the so-called digital television lawsuit. The current owner of the company is an Estonian company, which had once owned properties of ex-Prime Minister of Latvia Andris Šķēle’s family, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV.

In 2003, the actual beneficiary of Malta-based DIL was Harry Krongorn, who is an employee in Šķēle’s company. He was the first to be detained by authorities as part of the digital television case fourteen years ago.

The programme reminds that Krongorns was detained when the first advance payments for equipment were made by the state. USD 3.3 million was arrested on the account of DIL mediator firm in the Bank of Malta.

A great deal of documents regarding Malta-based companies ended up in the hands of journalists this year. De Facto reports that so-called Malta files detail that the owner of DIL is not Krongorn but rather Estonia-based Mythika Invest. In the company’s latest account it is noted that its owner is Latvian lawyer Raivo Sjademe.

«Unfortunately, I will have to disappoint you, because no answers to your questions will be provided,» said Sjademe in response to De Facto’s questions in regards to how he became the owner of DIL or if he merely represents someone.

De Facto also noticed that the Estonian company in question also owned in 2011 the office building of Šķēle’s company located on Dzirnavu iela 68 and Mākoņi property in Saulkrasti County. The more than 7 ha large piece of land on the sea coast houses Šķēle family residence.

Mythika Invest owned Mākoņi only for a couple of days before the property was handed into ownership of Šķēle’s wife Kristiāna through some Jersey Islands-based firm.

When asked, Šķēle was rather evasive in regards to his ties to Mythika Invest, which owns a company in Malta with USD 3 million on its account. From what he told the programme, it can be concluded that it is associated with Šķēle trust fund. When asked if the Estonian company represents his interests, Šķēle said: «No, that’s not what I meant! The aforementioned Estonian company had assisted a large western bank in which the governor of my trust fund was a member. This was done to settle controversies that had appeared during the liquidation process. […] I don’t know what you hope to achieve with your questions, but I have already told you more than I should have as a private person.»

When asked directly as to who owns the money arrested in Malta, Šķēle proposed asking the company in question.

LTV also reminds that in 2015 seven people were sentenced to prison. This includes Krongorn and Šķēle’s lawyer Jānis Loze. Six accused persons were applied with a fine, including Šķēle’s spokesperson Jurģis Liepnieks and the author of the digital television project Andrejs Ēķis.

The judge responsible to viewing the case also decided to lift the arrest on USD 3.3 million because Ēķis had borrowed money from Šķēle, who was not among the accused, and had paid back losses to the state. Nevertheless, the arrest on the money remains in force because the digital television case is being reviewed again by Riga Regional court. The prosecutor believes the money was acquired illegally and should remain under arrest. «The prosecution believes this money is what is left from illegally acquired USD 6 million. This fully qualifies as illegally acquired funds. […] And it should be confiscated in favour of the state,» said prosecutor Monvīds Zelčs.

The prosecutor is certain that Šķēle took over the project more or less fully after the criminal process was launched. Digital television in Latvia was introduced using the same equipment British Kempmayer had promised to deliver before the prosecutor’s office intervened.

The programme reports that the prosecutor is certain that Šķēle was not some ‘passing pedestrian’ or a ‘visionary’ in the digital television project as Krongorn put it. The prosecutor noticed signs of false testimony from Šķēle. Proof of this leaves no room for doubt that Šķēle was present at the very beginning of the project.

A new development for the case was secured thanks to testimonies from Loze and tax consultant Uldis Kokins. Both remained silent in the first instance court session. Now, however, they claim having worked in Šķēle’s interests. It is, however, more likely that Loze wants to clean his slate, not accuse Šķēle, De Facto reports.

The prosecutor believes that information acquired in court about Šķēle’s involvement has to be investigated. This is why it is proposed to inform law enforcement authorities in debates. It should be noted here that the prosecutor’s office already has one criminal process regarding crimes committed by people from Ratcliff, which is a company associated with Šķēle.

The criminal process separated from the digital television case is handled by prosecutor Modris Adlers. He did not provide an interview, only said that the investigation continues.


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