The so-called Panama documents mention the names of some of Latvia’s famous and infamous people, including Aivars Lembergs, businessman Ainars Gulbis and his son, tennis player Ernests Gulbis, airBaltic’s new investor Ralf-Dieter Montag-Girmes, founder of Lido Gunars Kirsons and others, as reported by Re:Baltica.
As noted by the investigative journalism company, there are 15,951 entries in the leaked database concerning Latvia. This is largely because clients of Mossack Fonseca had accounts in Latvian banks servicing non-residents. Some of the actual beneficiaries and shareholders mentioned as linked to Latvia are citizens of Russia and former CIS countries. Some are mostly unknown people, and publishing their names would serve no purpose, as using services of foreign companies is not a crime, Re:Baltica reports.
According to information from Re:Baltica, the recently leaked Panama documents contain information about 10 Latvian clients of MF law firm, 1,380 Latvian companies, 21 beneficiaries and 81 shareholders from Latvia.
Re:Baltica notes that some materials about Aivars Lembergs and his daughter had been known previously, as offshore firms mentioned in the leaked documents had been previously mentioned in court processes launched against Lembergs.
In 2008, Lembergs’ lawyer Irina Kauke asked MF to provide an official response as to whether or not Lembergs had any relation to a number of companies registered in Panama and the British Virgin Isles mentioned in the criminal process launched against him: Zele Mineral Resources Limited, Hinch Invest & Finance S.A, Regina Development Inc, Kaywood International Limited, Concavo Limited, Delvar Invest Eurocom and Digentia.
MF provided such a service for a fee. Lawyers replied that Lembergs’ name was not found in the company’s database. This, however, does not mean he owns nothing, as shareholder lists are kept by companies themselves. Kauke refused to provide comments to Re:Baltica and said she is categorically against the publication of this information.
Documents also prove that Liga Lemberga is the director of Canrif Limited. However, there is no information available as to its purpose.
Two offshore companies in Panama are owned by Ainars Gulbis. In one of them, Farber & Associates, his father Alvils and son, tennis player Ernets Gulbis, are appointed as directors.
Ainars Gulbis explained to Re:Baltica that he had bought the firm in the middle of 1990. He claims he did not feel certain about his owned property, fearing someone would try to take it from him. According to Gulbis, the only purpose of that company was to keep shares of SWH Group. Now that it has been sold, the offshore firm in the process of liquidation.
Ainars Gulbis denies that the company has anything to do with his son’s accomplishments in sports. «I am the only beneficiary. I appointed my father and Ernests as directors because it is a family enterprise and I trust them. The firm has never had a single bank account, nor has it ever carried out a single transfer. It has nothing to do with Ernests’ career,» – said Ainars Gulbis.
According to Re:Baltica, Lido owner Gunars Kutris had tried to maintain control over the company using services of the offshore company in question. In 2010, when Lido was having serious financial problems, an agreement was signed with three firms, Carcel Holdigs (Panama), Joyton International and Joondaloop Financial Corp (British Virgin Isles).
Lido agreed to pay these companies the debts owed by Kirsons’ and two of his other firms worth USD 21 million. Shortly after, Lido was provided with legal protection and Kirsons announced his insolvency, reminds Re:Baltica, noting that businessmen often used such schemes during the crisis to keep valuable assets in their hands and avoid paying actual debts.
Vladimir Shestakov was appointed to two of the offshore companies as an authorized representative. Lawyer Valdis Bergs was appointed to the third. These details reveal an agreement signed between Kirsons, Lido, three offshore firms and DnB Nord Bank at the end of 2011. This agreement was sent to MF by Carcel Holdigs.
Kirsons had used offshore services after that as well, when he had pledged shares in MC Horeca Holding to a Cyprus-based company. Shestakov was the representative of the Cyprus-based company then as well, as previously reported by LTV. Kirsons provided no answer when asked by Re:Baltica as to the reasons why he had used services of an offshore company and who does it belong to. He did, however, publicly state later on that he was convinced to employ shady insolvency methods during the crisis. Later on, however, he claims he chose in favour of honest talks with creditors.
Re:Baltica also reports that services of MF had been used by airBaltic’s new investor – Ralf-Dieter Montag-Girmess – three years ago. He was the manager in three offshore companies – ARQ Aviation Limited, ARQ Investment Limited and ARQ Real Estate Holdings Limited.
All three of them were founded in 2008. Over the course of the next three years, according to correspondence, MF had fruitlessly tried to acquire information related to clients.
Only in 2013, did Montag-Girmess become interested in closing those firms. The correspondence also reveals Montag-Girmess’ activities on the Russian market, including on the real estate market, as noted by Re:Baltica.