The decision to end the so-called oligarch case proves that the chief of Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau Yaroslav Strelchenok is unable to organize the investigation of a complicated and important case. On top of that, it also proves that he has been working in the interest of the people involved in that case for the past five years, as Strelchenok’s deputy, Juta Strīķe, comments the decision.
Strelchenok announced on Wednesday that KNAB will likely end the part of the case the prosecutor’s office had submitted to the bureau for additional investigation before the end of the year. Strelchenok mentioned that there was not enough proof to finish the investigation. He added that the criminal process was originally initiated by then the head of KNAB Investigation Department lead Lienīte Šikore and then the head of the bureau’s combating block Juta Strīķe.
Strīķe, commenting on Strelchenok’s announcement, noted that the criminal process was launched shortly after Strelchenok took over the reins in KNAB and that the bureau spent five years investigating the case while he was in charge. In her eyes, Strelchenok now admits his own inability to organize an investigation of a complicated and important case.
Strīķe claims that she was repeatedly denied access to the investigation on various stages, as she had been dismissed from her post multiple times over the years. Even prior to 2013 the chief of KNAB would often hinder the investigation and put obstacles in the way of multiple investigators to make work even more complicated.
Considering all of the aforementioned, now it is clear in whose interest he has been working these past five years, Strīķe said. When asked to clarify the ones in whose interest Strelchenok has been working all these years, the former KNAB official said names can be noticed in one specific case. She also added that Strelchenok always blames others for his own failures – including current and former KNAB employees, NGOs and the media.
Strelchenok mentioned on Wednesday that he had talked with the investigator multiple times and that there had been information regarding insufficient evidence to further develop the case. According to Strelchenok, this case was ‘forced’ on KNAB to perform. This case was also one of the main reasons why the Saeima had been dismissed following then the president of Latvia Valdis Zatlers’ initiative.
KNAB Chief noted that the decision to end the case has no relation to his non-proposal for the post of chief of KNAB. Strelchenok added that the investigator is independent in his decisions and that the chief of KNAB has no right to interfere with the investigation. Strelchenok also promised that the decision regarding the end of the investigation would be public.
The so-called oligarchs case was launched in May 2011 based on articles of the Criminal Law on bribery, money laundering, abuse of official power and breach of legal restrictions.
Initially the case revolved around 11 individuals. All of them were applied with legal status. KNAB performed searches in multiple locations around Latvia, including properties of influential politicians – Aivars Lembergs and Andris Skele.
Later on, KNAB submitted handed the criminal process to the prosecutor’s office to begin criminal prosecution. Last year, however, after evaluating KNAB’s request to commence criminal prosecution, prosecutor Maris Leja decided to end the part of the criminal process involving Aivars Lembergs. The alleged reason for this is because no signs of criminal offences had been found in the criminally accused official’s actions. The same decision was made in regards to ex-politician Ainars Slesers.