Had I not taken part in the digital television project, there would not have been a criminal case launched in relation to it, said ex-prime minister Andris Skele in court on Wednesday, 14 December. He added that lawyer Janis Loze had ‘partially represented’ his interests in this project.
At the beginning of the court hearing, Loze, who was the one who invited Skele to come and testify, noted that his goal was not to interrogate his client in court, but rather receive confirmation from Skele that he provided his client with legal aid and acted only in the interest of his client in the project.
«Yes and no,» – Skele said. He reminded that his once advisor Jurgis Liepnieks had convinced him about the digital television project around the end of 2000 or beginning of 2001. After multiple conversations, Skele recommended turning to Loze.
According to Skele, the lawyer had represented the politician’s interests in the project in relation to acquisition of majorities, meaning – if Skele had any interest in participating in the digital television project, he would have wanted to acquire the majorities. In relation to other clients in this project, the former politician said Loze had to consider on his own if he was in risk of a conflict of interests.
Loze then asked Skele if he [Loze] began providing legal aid in the digital television project and communicating with specific companies and people only after receiving an order from Skele. In his response, Skele emphasized that he had no doubts about the success of the digital television project and never once did he think it was fraudulent, illegal or in any way negative for society.
Skele noted that he would have no objections if Loze decided to present bank statements regarding services rendered. He also said he would testify in the criminal case to prove his innocence.
Skele’s former financial consultant Guna Kaminska asked if Skele and Loze had any contracts between them and if there were any payments conducted between them when Loze served and Skele’s lawyer. Skele replied by saying there were no contracts. He added that he had an agreement with Loze’s law firm, where the latter was one of the partners. Loze, according to Skele, was his protector. Payments were being performed regularly – USD 5,000 per month.
Skele once again emphasized that an agreement was made with the aforementioned law firm in 2000 in relation to trust guardian services over his owned properties, because at the time there was a settlement that the prime minister’s property and assets had to be disposed of. Because of that, they were handed over to a trust. The entire deal was performed by auditors. Legal assistance was provided by Loze’s law firm.
«Between myself and Loze was a relationship between a client and a laywer in the digital television projects in relation to the acquisition of majorities in Kempmayer company. Please do not think Loze had a monopoly on me,» – Skele explained, adding that Loze was not the only lawyer he hired to settle legal matters.
Kaminska also asked Skele about his role in the digital television project. Skele replied by saying that if he hadn’t been in this project, there would not have been a criminal case and «these people would not have spent 14 years sitting on the bench of the accused».
After providing the court his testimony, Skele refused to answer questions asked by journalists.
On 15 May 2015, the court declared thirteen people guilty in the criminal case. Seven of them were sentenced to actual prison time and six of them were sentenced to a fine. Five persons were cleared of all charges and one person was cleared of criminal liability. The court, with Judge Juris Stukans, began viewing the criminal case regarding the digital television project on 28 August 2008.