Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has commenced a criminal process for trade of influence. Among those involved in the criminal process is Gatis Truksnis, the former mayor of Jurmala, as well as businessmen and officials serving under him, as reported by De Facto programme.
The beginning of the multi-million contract’s signing for the supply of heat in Jurmala goes back two years back. KSER worked long and hard to make sure Jurmalas siltums signs a letter of intent. This letter of intent would ensure that Kauguri receives heating energy from the currently non-existing KSER CHP plant. This agreement would guarantee income to businessmen once the CHP plant is built. According to initial estimates, this income would be more than EUR 1.5 million annually, the programme explains.
«But the municipal administration finds it difficult to explain this decision, because just recently the municipality built a CHP plant worth EUR 7 million. There is no need for there to be two CHP plants in Kauguri,» the programme reports.
Journalists of the programme remind that the first meeting of the three sides took place in Aquarius restaurant in 2015. This meeting was attended by then the Mayor of Jurmala Gatis Truksnis, manager of Jurmala siltums Zigurds Starks and Aigars Melko. It was during this meeting that Truksnis had introduced Starks to Melko. The latter represented KSER in meetings that followed. The meeting in the restaurant was organized because Starks did not want to speak with businessmen. Even then Melko was involved in the so-called Latvenergo bribery case. «I was not aware of that at the time. It is negative that a person is under prosecution,» Truksnis mentioned in an interview to De Facto one year ago.
De Facto also explains that several months after the meeting in the restaurant, businessmen turned very intent of making Starks sign the agreement. But no agreement was reached in the end. Another meeting was organized. One year ago, Starks told the programme that «the chairman had asked him to sign the agreement four times. Four!»
Truksnis, on the other hand denied forcing Starks sign the agreement. The management board was replaced after that. Now Truksnis pretends he knows nothing of that. Starks refused the interview because he has signed a document on information non-disclosure with KNAB. «I have no status in that case. Nothing!» Truksnis said.
The programme is aware that the meeting between Starks and Melko had taken place at the end of 2015. Melko had arrived at the meeting with the project’s draft. The project included a condition that the municipality would procure 65,000 MWh of heating energy from KSER. This is 70% of the amount necessary for Kauguri and approximately equal to the volume produced by the municipality’s built CHP plant.
De Facto is also aware that Melko wrote something on his napkin during the meeting. When asked what it was, however, Melko said: «I told you – I’m not allowed to disclose information!» He said that he is a witness in the case.
It is not possible to confirm Melko’s status in the criminal process – KNAB does not reveal this information. It is only known that three officials are held suspect for trading influence.
In the end, important documents with Jurmalas siltums were signed from KSER’s side by both of the company’s board members. When asked if he is a suspect in the case, former KSER board member Gundars Stenbergs said: «What do you want from me?» He refused to comment on his status in the criminal case.
KSER board member and co-owner of the company Dmitrijs Artjusins notes that «all the recently published information does not apply to myself and my colleagues. Please ask your informers to check who the real suspects are.»
From Jurmalas siltums’ side, the document bears the signatures of the new chairman Valdis Vitolins and other board member Raits Arnts. This means there is support for the decision to procure energy from KSER in the administration of the city council. «The letter of intent was extended in January 2017. What for, you ask? I can answer that. The company failed to comply with requirements in the ministry. They need to extend their license to commence heating energy production,» says chairperson of Jurmala City Council Riga Sproge.
«All agreements and actions performed by Jurmalas siltums have to be coordinated with LIAA. If it [KSER plant] were to be built and Jurmalas siltums is forced to reduce production at a certain volume or not produce energy at all, we would apply a request to return financial correction or support fees,» says LIAA European Fund Department’s director Edgars Babris.