The operation performed by Latvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau in catching Ugis Magonis, the now former manager of Latvijas dzelzceļš, with a EUR 500,000 bribe received a continuation this summer. Prosecutor’s office has launched a criminal case against Magonis and Estonian businessman Oleg Osinovskis. This means more light will be shed on this in court.
Meanwhile, Juris Jurass, KNAB investigator who was in charge of the aforementioned operation, has reported scandalous information – he himself was offered a bribe of one million euros. The management of KNAB, however, acts as though nothing has happened. Chief of KNAB Yaroslav Strelchenok wants to manage KNAB for a second term. This information could make it hard for him.
Last summer, KNAB arrested Ugis Magonis for bribery – EUR 500,000 in cash was found in his car when he was arrested. Magonis had received this money from Estonia’s wealthiest man – Oleg Osinovskis – in relation to the procurement of used trains for LDz subsidiary, Nekā personīga programme of TV3.
Osinovski’s lawyers stated from the start that the money found in Magonis’ car had no relation to any specific transaction, but was instead necessary to secure favourable outcome in other processes. Investigators concluded it was influence trade. Because Magonis refused to testify, this was the only explanation.
Bribery is punishable with up to ten years in prison. Trade of influence, on the other hand, carries a much softer punishment in comparison. One year after the whole ordeal, KNAB operative Juris Jurass, who headed Magonis’ arrest, revealed that he was offered a bribe of one million euros in exchange for going with Osinovskis’ version.
Osinovskis owns a train repair plant. He knows representatives of Latvia’s business well enough. Nevertheless, he has had experience dealing with the law. Shortly after Magonis’ arrest, Osinovskis turned to Riga Mayor Nil Ushakov for advice. Ushakov advised him to contact Andrejs Elksnins, who has contacts in KNAB and other security and law enforcement institutions. Osinovskis’ interests are protected by lawyer Saulvedis Varpins, with whom Elkskins had once worked in the same firm.
Settling this case cost Osinovskis a six-digit figure. Nevertheless, he had no certainty there would be no bigger charges raised against him. Jurass was the main source of problems. Jurass believed what happened was bribery of an official figure. This is why one of Jurass old acquaintances came to him at the end of September. This person was a mediator and offered Jurass one million euros.
1994 was a good year for Latvia’s Police Academy. Along with Jurass, several dozen youngsters received lawyer’s qualification. Some of them are well-known lawyers and political consultants. Alongside Jurass, the police academy gave rise to Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis’ freelance consultant Maris Grudilis and Artis Stucka, advisor to Transport Minister Uldis Augulis. Janis Dambitis received his diploma some time later. He was the one who ‘extended the offer’ to Jurass. Dambitis categorically denies this.
Osinovskis also denies organizing this bribe offer. He does allow that this may have happened behind his back.
Jurass had submitted a report on this whole situation to the management of KNAB. Jurass wrote the report on 1 October. He did not disclose the name of the person who extended the offer. Had an investigation been commenced, someone would have asked Jurass for the name of that person. Only there is still no investigation. «There is nothing left for me to do, other than conclude that this information has not been checked. I see negligence of officials in all this. It is hard to imagine what needs to happen and what principles are employed by the management to leave such information without any attention,» – Jurass explains.
It is impossible to predict what the investigation could lead to. It can be said with confidence, however, that KNAB has yet to launch an investigation. Jurass has turned to the prosecutor’s office to determine why no investigation is underway. Although Osinovskis’ and Elksnins’ have parted ways, the latter continues following progress of this case. He knows Jurass’ former classmates are involved in this story and deny their involvement.
Following Jurass’ decision to go publicly with this information, Security Police turned against him for disclosing official secrets, even though information about corruptive actions can never be especially secret.