Investigators working at Latvian State Revenue Service either distrust banks or actively try to legalize possibly illegally acquired finances, as concluded by De Facto programme after a careful examination of 101 declarations submitted by investigators.
Declarations of 33 people, one third of SRS’ investigators, contain information that is quite shocking: cash savings, annual money gifts from relatives, issued loans and even gambling addiction.
20% of investigators have cash savings. Wages of those people before taxes varies from EUR 800 to EUR 1,000. The total amount of money investigators had in savings last year was EUR 224,986.27. 85% of them have no other form of savings (bank deposits, etc). Judging from information stated in their declarations, SRS investigators keep different amounts of cash savings – usually around EUR 10,000.
One example of this is SRS Finance Police’s senior investigator. What is interesting about this person is the information stated in his annual declarations. He began working in SRS as an inspector in October 2004. At that point his declaration was empty – no savings, no properties, nothing at all. Over the course of many months, however, his wage had reached nearly LVL 700. That was the only source of income stated in the declaration then. What is curious is that he had also somehow managed to gather a considerable amount in savings – LVL 1,850 – over the course of those three months. His savings kept increasing every year and the investigator’s savings had reached EUR 11,500 last year. Similar to his other colleagues, he does not keep his savings in a bank.
Declarations of SRS investigators also point to another curious trend. 10% of them regularly receive money gifts. Most often they receive money from their parents. Either they all have very caring parents who generously help their children financially, or this is an elaborate way of laundering money. For example, SRS senior investigator had earned approximately EUR 1,200 a month last year. In addition to that, however, that investigator had also received EUR 2,400 from her mother. This has been a tradition for them for six years. The investigator has also been receiving money gifts from her father and some other person. This investigator’s mother works in municipal administration. However, no mentions of any money gifts to her daughter are found in the woman’s declaration.
There is another troubling trend: some of the investigators may be suffering from gambling addiction. De facto, there is information regarding their winnings in their declarations. However, it is unknown how much money those people have lost to gambling. The most often form of gambling mentioned in declarations is Latvian Lotto. It is, however, nothing next to thousands of euros won from Internet gambling sites. For example, one senior investigator had not only managed to make cash savings of EUR 9,500 but also win EUR 860 from gambling. Another senior investigator of Finance Police had won more than EUR 2,500 last year and EUR 3,500 the year before. It should be added that he had also taken many small loans as well.
In order to find out if this practice is also present in other institutions, De Facto programme decided to analyse 204 declarations of people employed in Finance Ministry. The general picture there turned out completely opposite to that in SRS. Only 5% of officials whose declarations were analysed by De Facto had mentions of cash savings – most did not exceed two hundred euros in size. There were also no mentions of gambling, money gifts and large loans. «No real confirmation of authenticity of information stated in officials’ declarations are held in general,» – says State Auditor Elita Krumina. She believes «there is no point to following declarations, making sure they are submitted on time and if they are filled in accordance with all the rules, especially if the point of them is absent. Can we really trust the information stated in them is true?»
Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau performs a survey of 120 randomly selected declarations every year. The main goal there is to make sure officials do not end up in a conflict of interests. Information is studied in detail only in rare cases. «Once a person is noticed by KNAB, information stated in their declaration is analysed in detail,» – notes KNAB State Officials’ Supervision Department Andris Donsis. Even in such cases information is later sent to SRS for further investigation.