Changes have been made in the management of Kalija Parks (KP), Ventspils Commercial Port (VCP), Ostas Flote and Seastar. The shareholders, led by the majority shareholder Dutch Investment-company Geit B.V. (Geit), have implemented various changes during a number of shareholders’ meetings held between March 1 and 8, 2012.
In nearly all the companies 100% of the shareholders participated and unanimously welcomed the changes. An internal audit in some companies had disclosed that the shareholders and the Latvian government have been defrauded of millions of Euros through schemes realized under the previous managements that were puppets in the hands of certain Ventspils “Mini-Oligarchs”, according to Geit B.V.
“Many of these companies are still run in the same way that they were at the end of the Soviet era. One only needs to take a walk through the terminals to smell the mentality of the 80’s and early 90’s. Little has been done to educate the employees and department heads. But, I don’t blame the employees. Those were the Oligarchs running these terminals with their puppet managements. The priority was placed on schemes, avoiding taxes and how to skim the companies of profits, but not on increasing investment, productivity and competitiveness,” says Rudolf Meroni, the representative of Geit.
Geit points out that over the recent years, multiple schemes of doubtful legality were used to strip the all the companies of their legitimate earnings. Rudolf Meroni, the Chairman of the Supervisory Boards of Ventspils Commercial Port and Kalija Parks, and his management team finally stopped these schemes in mid-2011.
In 2009/10, more than ten million Euros were defrauded from Kalija Parks into the pockets of a related party. Two companies owned by Olegs Stepanovs, SSF Logistic and SSF Solutions, were responsible for such a cash diversion, mainly being put as intermediaries between KP and its longtime clients for decades.
“I would have stopped this stealing much sooner. But a false shareholders meeting in April 2010 led by Martins Kveps gave control of KP to a group of criminals. It took us some time to fight through the Latvian court system. In the meantime it is finally decided and confirmed by the Latvian Court, that all Kveps and Stepanovs did were stupid falsifications. A large part of this 10 million Euros stolen money would have belonged to the Latvian State. But now it will be impossible to recover it. Stepanovs’ SSF companies are on the edge of bankruptcy,” Meroni says.
The most important scheme used at Ventspils Commercial Port was through alleged forwarding services provided by SSF companies (owned by Olegs Stepanovs). The fee for the services charged was 10 times higher than the real value. The tariff was between 0.21 and 0.23 EUR per ton, whereas the cost that we now pay is 0.02 EUR per ton.
According to the changes, Rudolf Meroni is KP Supervisory Board Chairman, Gints Laivins-Laivenieks – his deputy, while Aivars Gobins and Diana Jukna – Supervisory Board members. Nikolajs Bastovojs is the Chairman of the Management Board, David Anstis – his deputy, but Janis Haze, Sergejs Iljasenko and Alvis Haze – Management Board members.
VCP Supervisory Board Chairman is Rudolf Meroni, while Gints Laivins-Laivenieks – his deputy. Sergejs Iljasenko and Diana Jukna are Supervisory Board members. Valerijs Pasuta is Chairman of the Management Board, but David Anstis – his deputy. Aivars Gobins, Janis Haze un Alvis Haze are Management Board members.