Julijs Krumins, who is accused of illegal financing of the Union of Greens and Farmers and To Latvia from the Heart, defended his actions in last week’s interviews. He claimed the crimes he is accused of committing cannot be considered such.
According to him, sometimes there is no other way out for him other than offering a bribe.
Krumins noted that Latvia’s tragedy lies elsewhere, revealing certain dirty activities and methods employed by people like Aivars Lembergs and Andris Skele to enhance their wealth. Some of what Krumins said about Lembergs will be viewed and decided upon by the court, as reported by Nekā personīga programme of TV3.
Unlike the two evils mentioned by Krumins, the businessman has never been a political official. He is not as cautious as Lembergs and Skele. In addition, Krumins is not that knowledgeable about Latvia’s legislation. The millionaire does not believe there is anything criminal about a mayor and judge living in his apartments.
40 years ago Riga Film Studio produced «In shadow of the sword» (Zobena ēnā). This film tells the sad story of Turaida’s rose. Few would associate the name Julijs Krumins mentioned in the credits as assistant director with spotlight-loving businessman with the same name. But it is the same person nonetheless. Krumins, who found himself in film industry at the beginning of his career, viewed events in his life as a play, in which every participant has a role to play in accordance with the scenario. Krumins received his education in Moscow Cinematography Institute. He worked in Mosfilm and Riga Film Studio. Like other well-known oligarchs, he began his business with selling flowers in Russia.
In 1986, Aija Ornina was 22 years old. Krumins was a role-model at the time. He had a new car and there was not much that he did not have. He knew he would be a millionaire. «He was neither a businessman nor what is today. Listening to him, it seemed to me he was somewhat mad. Nevertheless, he knew he would accomplish his goals,» – comments the suspended chairperson of Riga City Kurzeme District Court Aija Ornina.
Shortly after the restoration of independence Krumins renamed his flower business to Man-Tess. How Krumins managed to get his hands of an oil terminal in Riga port remains unknown; the press of that time wrote no articles about that. This may be because the press was busy writing articles about murders of owners of terminals close to Man-Tess. Sergei Generalov, co-owner of Lat West East terminal, was killed in an explosion when he entered the elevator in his apartment building. Authorities believe there was a remote-controlled explosive used in this assassination. B.L.B. co-owner Valery Likhachev was taken from an airport in Moscow and shot dead by men presumably wearing police uniforms. No information is available about any death threats voiced to Julijs Krumins, but he does have license to carry weapons.
In 1993, Krumins becomes a member of Club 21, which can be considered the backbone of then the most influential party in the country – Latvian Way.
By the end of the 90s, Krumins’ owned properties as estimated to be worth USD 3 million by Bizness un Baltija magazine. Aside from influence and money, Krumins also earned some enemies. In the case against Aivars Lembergs, Krumins said the former had abused his official position by demanding shares in transit companies active in Ventspils port. In his testimony against Aivars Lembergs, Anrijs Lembergs and Ansis Sormulis on 21 September 2010, Krumins said: «We all knew he [Lembergs] was hiding behind some offshore. No project was allowed to progress without his express permission. It was the time when we began the construction of Naftas parks 100. He did not give permission to build that terminal. He wrote that it was necessary to provide a gift in exchange for anything. Not bribe – gift.»
«He [Krumins] was one of the people in business of that time who knew about the foundation and capital attraction in that company. He also became one of the businessmen whose companies suffered from attempts of others trying to take over. This fits the charges presented against Aivars Lembergs, who, according to Krumins’ testimony, had illegally acquired shares in a specific company in the middle of the 90s. The total value was estimated at LVL 75,000. But that was only the nominal value that opened the way to dozens of millions worth or income from oil transshipment in Ventspils,» – said prosecutor Juriss Juriss.
Krumins mentioned Andris Skele as the other major obstacle for business development. According to Krumins, Skele has hidden interests in Riga port. Kruins had a conflict with Skele. This conflict resulted in Krumins losing his business at the port. He adds that Skele even requested a two million bribe from him, which was not provided. In 2011, Krumins was forced to sell almost everything he had and then relocate to Australia. However, he found the country boring. He soon returned to Latvia and launched multiple real estate projects in Jurmala.
Krumins’ projects were given green light in Jurmala under Gatis Truksnis leadership. Everything was fine for two years. But now Krumins is in hospital, Truksnis is no longer in power and Krumins pulls others down with him. KNAB is busy inspecting if Krumins is involved in Truksnis’ illegal financing activities of political parties. The bureau also wishes to know if Truksnis’ living in an exclusive apartment owned by Krumins can be considered a bribe.
«I stayed there. I stayed there temporarily while repairs were being done in my apartment. […] I had brought over my things to that apartment. Everything was in accordance with the law, with all contracts, rent documents – everything is fine,» – Truksnis explains his living in the apartment owned by Krumins.
Aija Ornina, Krumins’ old acquaintance and now suspended judge of Riga City Kurzeme District Court, tells a similar story.
Although Krumins likes to say he helps everyone, the doors of Turaidas quarter seem to be open only to people valuable to him. KNAB suspects Ornina had promised Krumins to assist his friend Juris Mikelis in some case in exchange for a bribe. «No monetary offer was extended to me by Julijs Krumins even though we had discussed many problems and solutions together. I did not accept any monetary rewards from him. I have not committed any violations in my work,» – said Ornina.
This is not the only case Krumins had discussed with Ornina. Once, the businessman had expressed an interest in influencing Latvenergo bribery case. That case involves another one of Krumins’ acquaintances – former vice-president of Latvenergo Aigars Melko. Authorities found EUR 146,000 in his car. The first instance court was unexpectedly kind towards Melko and sentenced him to a fine. The court found a way to re-classify the serious bribery charges into a much milder commercial bribery case. The ruling was written by Ornina’s former classmate Inese Silinevica, chairperson of Riga District Court.