Continuing the criminal proceedings against Ventspilc Mayor Aivars Lembergs, millionaire Vladimir Komogortsev gave his testimony last week. He was closely related to Ventspils transit business until 1998.
In his testimony, Komogortsev called Lembergs’ group – a «gang», and described Lembergs as the «gang’s» father, without whom the rest could not even «make a sound». He also described Lembergs as a «tiger trainer» who «raises his whip» and everyone have their «paws up». Komogortsev also reminded Lembergs in the court: «You said it yourself that 20% of shares that were supposed to be given to politicians will be kept in your safe, in order to give them to politicians at the right time.»
The once Lieutenant-Colonel of the State Security Committee also confirmed his testimony given in August 2007, pointing several times towards Lembergs’ role and the fact that the so called Lembergs’ associates, among whom are also Olafs Berkis and some politicians, all served Lembergs’ interests, Pietiek reports.
Komogortsev also testified at court in relation to a number of meetings regarding the ‘90s privatization of Ventspils nafta (VN) in spring of 2010 at the bureau of the missing lawyer Ainars Platacis. He also said that politicians also took part in those meetings. Komogortsev’s words also revealed that Lembergs’ group and the missing Platacis were closely related at the time.
Komogortsev’s testimony put everything in its place with his comment on some conversation that took place in Platacis’ bureau with some member of Lembergs’ «gang», where they celebrated his 50th jubilee (1999, April): «I told you that, when you become rich, you will eat each other like spiders in a jar. This time has come.»
Komogortsev is a former chekist (he was Deputy Chief of Soviet Latvia’s State Security Committee 2nd department (counter-intelligence); retired in 1991). Ever since the beginning of the ‘90s, when the Soviet Union collapsed and Latvia received independence, Komogortsev got involved in business with his partner, also a former chekist Yuri Shabashov. Business transactions of both of them were related to Russia’s interests. Their third companion, Sergey Generalov, was killed by an explosion in an elevator in the beginning of the ‘90s.
In politics, Komogortsev’s name was related to support of the Latvian Social Democratic Workers Party (LSDWP) and its leader, former Mayor of Riga Gundars Bojars. He is also acquainted with the «right hand» of the founder of the For Latvia’s development association, former Prime Minister Einars Repse, the so called political technologist Danis Titavs, as well as former Prime Minister Aigars Kalvitis.
IN the ‘90s, Komogortsev’s and Shabashov’s business was linked with the now terminated company – Lat West East, which operated with oil and oil product transit through a pipeline to Ventspils port. At the time, their activity was linked to the interests of the former Russian oil giant Jukos. It was oil and oil product transit that crossed their paths with the now accused Lembergs, who, according to Komogortsev’s testimony, «played the main role in VN and Ventspils transit business.»
After the restoration of Latvia’s independence, Lat West East had a significant role in oil and diesel fuel transit vie pipelines. Lat West East was one of the founders of the international (Latvia and Russia) pipeline servicing company LaSam. (When preparing VN privatization, LaSam was remade into LatRos Trans, and LaSam had an important role with Lembergs’ administration and interests in the privatization of VN.) Also, Lat West East was one of the founders of the privatized VN’s Latvjas Naftas Tranzits (LNT).
According to Komogortsev’s testimony, Lembergs’ administration with support from then the leading political parties (Latvia’s Road, TB/LNNK, Saimnieks Democratic Party) prepared a targeted privatization of VN in the mid ’90s, as a result of which VN actually ended up in the hands of Lembergs and his associates in 1997, this includes Berkis and Stepanovs.
Komogortsev’s led Lat West East and diesel fuel transit business operated in Ventspils port until 1998. After then, Lat West East left Ventspils port because of Lembergs. Komogortsev claims that with Lembergs’ providence, at least 4.18 million dollars were «stolen» from Lat West East. By now, this amount is around eight million dollars.
In his testimony in relation to VN privatization, Komogortsev confirms that in accordance with the VN privatization, carried out in summer 1997 during TB/LNNK leader Guntars Krasts’ time, payments were made – bribes to political parties. Judging from his testimony, 20% of LNT shares for the adoption of the «necessary» privatization scheme of VN were prepared for then the ruling parties – Latvijas Road, TB/LNNK and Saimnieks Democratic Party.
As it is clear, most suspicion in relation to the possible bribes with VN privatization falls on Lembergs.
Unofficially, former Prime Minister Guntars Krasts, businessmen related to TB/LNNK, former Privatization Agency Council members Normunds Lacuks and Eizens Cepurnieks, former Internal Affairs Minister Ziedonis Chevers, former leaders of Latvia’s Road Ojars Kehris, Vilis Kristopans, Maris Gailis, as well as the current columnist of Diena newspaper, ex-politician Andrey Panteleyev are among those suspected of accepting bribes in the VN privatization case. Until now, all of these individuals have denied any relation to illegal business in relation to VN privatization. The possible involvement of politicians is being investigated by the prosecutor’s office in a separate criminal proceeding.