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Saturday 18.11.2017 | Name days: Doloresa, Aleksandrs

Police search Millionaire Olegs Stepanovs home looking for evidence

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULast month, on April 10th, there were searches performed by authorities at a dozen locations linked to Ventspils transit businessman Oleg Stepanov.

According to information from Pietiek, these searches were carried out as part of a criminal process regarding the misappropriation of significant funds from Latvijas Naftas tranzīts. Stepanov is suspected of being involved in this.

David G. Anstis, member of the Management Board of LNT, has confirmed in an interview with BNN that LNT has, indeed, turned to Economic Police with a request to investigate possible illegal activities that may have taken place in the first half of 2013.

‘Millions of euros were transferred from LNT accounts by Mr. Kulikovs, perhaps following instructions given to him by Mr Oleg Stepanov. These sums were supposedly transferred for LNT’s own legal fees, however it turns out these funds were instead used for purposes unrelated to the company’s own activities,’ – said Anstis.

‘It looks like this money was used to pay personal legal fees in the UK for Mr. Stepanov or for companies in which he is a beneficial owner,’ – he continues.

When asked about Mr. Kulikov’s presence in the company’s Management Board, Anstis said Mr. Kulikov was appointed to the Management Board of LNT following a possible falsification of documents and subsequent submission of said documents to the Register of Enterprises. These documents have been turned over to the police to help in the investigation.

‘At this time I really can’t comment any more on this issue since there is an on-going criminal investigation,’ – said Anstis in his interview to BNN.

Suspicions regarding the possible attempts of misappropriation of funds in this Ventspils transit business company (37.98% controlled by Ventspils nafta) had surfaced one year ago, with the allocation of a loan for Stepanov’s owned Topmar Company.

This kind of scheme was used in 2012. It had successfully circumvented restrictions imposed against Aivars Lembergs which would otherwise have given the state right to claim at least some art of these funds in the event of an appropriate ruling from the court, as reported by Pietiek.

Stepanov’s need for this money is explained in Ventspils transit business sector by the millionaire’s need to maintain his expensive life-style and political ambitions. In order to realize such ambitions, big players in Ventspils transit business traditionally use company funds.

It was assumed at the time that Lembergs’ interests in regard to money owned by LNT and Ventbunkers had not gone anywhere and was being carried out with Stepanov’s help. On top of that, several sources in Ventspils transit business had reported that Lembergs’ son Anrijs had convinced people with ties to Olafs Berkis to help divide up funds owned by LNT – $29 million – which were deposited in Valartis Bank in Lichtenstein.

Last year, on the eve of the meeting of LNT Council, two majority shareholders of LNT – Ventbunkers and Ventrans Riga (control a total of 62.49% of LNT capital) had sent a warning to Council members of the company and Prosecutor General’s office, expressing concerns over possible illegal activities in the division of money owned by LNT, including dividends, loans and other forms.

‘Such allocation of funds for Oleg’s [Stepanov] Topmar Company can be viewed as a crime,’ – as Rudolf Meroni mentioned in his open letter to all involved sides.

The shadow of suspicion was cast not only upon possible illegal decisions made my LNT Supervisory Council, but also the legitimacy of authority granted to Stepanov’s son Aleksandr Kulikov. After the resignation of LNT Council member Sergei Odintsov February 18th, 2013, the entire LNT Council was basically considered illegitimate in accordance with Part 9 of Section 296 of the Commercial Law: If a council member leaves his or her office or is recalled from office before the expiration of the time period of the council, new council member elections shall take place in which the whole composition of the council shall be re-elected.

It was noted one year ago that the Prosecutor General’s office was reviewing applications that questioned the legality of authority granted to Kulikov. He was appointed based on minutes of the January 18th 2013 LNT shareholders meeting. The legality of this decision was questioned because not all shareholders had participated in this meeting and because this meeting was not called in accordance with legal requirements.

‘It should be noted that there are no minutes signed by LNT shareholders and one that would prove the legitimacy of the otherwise falsified list. This falsification was performed by Aleksei Ovod and his assistant Tatyana Poshkurlata. It is undoubtedly an act of falsification of an official document, which is a criminal offence. This case is currently being reviewed by authorities. With that, I ask you to act within the law and seriously consider the possibility of participants of this illegitimate and criminal attempt acted in order to claim funds owned by LNT as their own,’ – mentioned Meroni in his letter.

Last year, it was mentioned that such activities may serve as means to circumvent the ruling of Riga Regional Court regarding Lembergs’ arrested properties. If Lembergs were to be prosecuted based on accusations in corruptive activities and his involvement in a conflict of interests, the state would have rights on the arrested properties. This also applies to the share of free funds of LNT, which is controlled by Ventbunkers and Ventrans Riga (owners of 62.49% of shares).

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