The suspended Chief of State Revenue Service’s Customs Office Talis Kravalis has actively hindered the investigation of his sister’s, manager of Customs Office’s Risk Management Department Baiba Truksane, role in allowing a cargo of fake brand clothes pass through the border.
When two trucks carrying clothes entered the Terekhovo border checkpoint from Russia in June 2014, customs officers examined them. Inside, they found trousers and shirts produced by Tommy Hilgfiger, Diesel, Givenchy and Burberry. Customs officers had suspicions that the goods are fakes and decided to halt the cargo. An expert was then called in from Riga to inspect the cargo, as reported by Nekā personīga programme of TV3.
The specialist concluded that the entire cargo consisted of counterfeit goods, so customs officers compiled a report. The law states fake brand clothes are to be confiscated destroyed. The trucks remained in Terekhova one week. Then things suddenly changed. Trucks were allowed to cross the border.
A representative of Anti-counterfeit Network turned to Director General of Latvian State Revenue Service Inara Petersone with a request to explain if certain officials had committed violations. At first, Petersone found it difficult to believe such a thing was possible. Only after a long time of convincing Petersone agreed to launch an investigation. It was determined that customs officers had ended the case after they received an order from Riga Customs Risk Management Department. The order was to let that cargo continue on its way. The head of Customs Risk Management Department, Baiba Truksane, who is also Talis Kravalis sister, is involved in this case. The internal inspection lasted more than a year. Finance police then finally launched a criminal process against Truksane and Chief of Latgale Customs Office Guntars Loits. Both were initially detained. Two days after their detainment the two were let go and dismissed from their posts.
«Finance Police have launched a criminal process for inaction of customs officials which resulted in major harm. The criminal process was launched only recently, but the facts and events detailed in it happened in the middle of the previous year,» – notes SRS deputy director Kaspars Cerneckis.
Investigators have evidence to suggest Kravalis had been using his official post to hinder the investigation of his sister’s role in releasing counterfeit cargo. In his conversation with the programme, Kravalis mentioned that Finance Police are trying to settle old debts by turning against him and his sister. Kravalis defends his sister by saying that she had only tried to make sure Latvia does not breach EU regulations on not examining cargoes meant for transit.
Finance Police say that initially the cargo containing counterfeit clothes was meant for Europe. In addition, if customs officers find counterfeit goods, the law allows them to halt cargoes meant for transit as well.
Petersone denies that the criminal process against Kravalis sister is in any way related to Kravalis dismissal. Nevertheless, the fact that Truksane is Kravalis’ brother and was under his indirect authority had created a conflict of interests. Kravalis had complained about the investigation of his sister to Petersone in writing. Petersone had asked KNAB to look into whether or not Kravalis thereby entered a conflict of interest. KNAB concluded that he did. Kravalis was then fined EUR 120.
A friend of Kravalis’ who wished to remain anonymous mentioned in an interview with the programme that Kravalis had been psychologically broken by KNAB’s operation with Vladimir Vaskevics’ detainment. Since then the general is provided with security from time to time. The decision to act against then a very influential Vaskevics was a brave one. Unfortunately, it has not been acknowledged all that much by SRS.