Shortly after the release from custody of former head of LDz Ugis Magonis in exchange for bail of EUR 400,000, the Saeima received a proposal to amend rules regarding bail money to make sure investigators are informed of the origin of this money.
This matter has been discussed by multiple committees over the course of the month. Protests have been voiced as well, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV.
Nothing is known about the origin of the bail paid for Magonis’ release. Even his lawyer, Janis Rozenbergs, knows nothing: «This bail consists mostly of borrowed money.»
According to unofficial information, Magonis’ wife had borrowed money in Russia.
Current legislation states that suspects are to be released from custody as soon as confirmation is received in regards to the payment of bail. Saeima deputy Andrejs Judins has proposed to make it mandatory to state the name of the person paying the bail.
Deputies have nonetheless voiced protests against this proposal, saying that additional information would make the work of investigators more complicated, as nothing is said about taking action if it turns out that the bail money is dirty.
Saeima Criminal Affairs sub-committee led by Gunars Kutris has declined Judins’ proposal. In his interview to Latvijas Radio, the politician mentioned that even in the cradle of democracy – USA – no one asks for the origin of bail money. That is not entirely true, the programme says: at least two states in the United States of America – Illinois and New York – have regulations that dictate that it is not only necessary to state the origin of bail money, but the court can also request an interrogation to acquire a full picture of the person’s profile and reputation.
«Ok, the origin of bail money is not required in most states in USA; the situation varies from state to state,’ – said the deputy in response to the programme’s clarification. He does stick to his guns, however. ‘Even if we look at the entire world, we will find only a handful of countries that do this,» – said the deputy.
The origin of bail money is required to be presented in court in Germany, Belgium and Spain.
The Legal Affairs Committee has also voiced criticisms towards Judin’s proposal this week. A representative of Justice Ministry notes that the State Revenue Service could inspect the origin of bail money and launch its own investigation.
Prosecutor General Eriks Kalnmeiers believes the goal of this proposal us to prevent situations when illegally-acquired money is paid as bail. «It is hard to say if this is even possible,» – he said. The Prosecutor General is concerned that inspection of bail money could delay the release of people from custody, which borders breach of human rights. «There should be no rush,» – said Kalnmeiers, proposing a more in-depth discussion of this proposal.