The fact that Ventspils millionaires – Olafs Berkis, Olegs Stepanovs, Igors Skoks and Genadijs Sevcovs – have been elected into Ventspils Nafta Supervisory Council clearly shows that the international concern Vitol is yielding to the interests of these Latvian oligarchs.
The decision taken in July 25 shareholders meeting once again confirms that Vitol easily enters into as doubtful transactions as when the company signed a secret contract with the accused Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs and his associates. The deal was carried out back in the autumn of 2006 and concerned privatization of Ventspils Nafta.
Vitol’s willingness to ensure Western corporate governance standards in AS Ventspils Nafta and AS Latvian Shipping Company has proved to be just empty talk. By supporting replacement of Ventspils Nafta Supervisory Council, Vitol gets involved in deals with a group that uses criminal methods. But the move also means pushing aside the state of Lativa from any control over Ventspils Nafta. Latvia’s interest in the seized property secretly owned by Lembergs is managed by the Swiss attorney Rudolf Meroni.
Berkis, Stepanovs, Skoks and Sevcovs have unlawfully got hold of the right to manage AS Ventspils Nafta’s owner AS Latvijas naftas tranzits and its parent company AS Ventbunkers. To do that they made use of lies and political forces that will do everything to please their sponsors, presumably, even via illegal ways.
All the decisions that allow the mentioned persons to control the AS Ventbunkers and Latvijas naftas tranzits have been challenged at Latvian courts.
Rudolf Meroni is the only lawful AS Ventbunkers and AS Latvijas naftas tranzits Chairman of the Supervisory Council. He has already drew the attention of a number of top Latvian officials to the growing trends of raiding in Ventspils business, where Ventspils millionaires are using openly criminal methods to take over AS Ventbunkers and AS Latvijas naftas tranzits.
Under these oligarchs’ rule, the companies’ money has been squandered via a variety of schemes that have pushed the state into millions of losses. Besides, the scam is backed by the political elite that is supposed to working in the public interest.
Latvian state officials have been too slow to act. Now it can be seen that Berkis and his associates’ raiding practice is spreading. Although unlawful take-over of a company is a criminal offense in the western corporate practice, it is supported by the international concern Vitol, This contradicts the company’s statement that it has entered Latvia work honestly and transparently.
Rudolf Meroni reminds that Berkis, Stepanovs, Skoks and Sevcovs were Lembergs’ associates in the years long embezzlement in AS Ventspils Nafta. Via a network of schemes, their offshore bank accounts were transferred millions of dollars that were supposed to stay with AS Ventspils Nafta. The money should have been schedulled to the state budget and all the company’s shareholders.
Under Lembergs lead, the same persons also “lent a helping hand” in defrausing the Latvian Shipping Company out of money back in 2002. Back then, millions of dollars were directed away from the company via fake freight contracts. The ongoing litigation in Britain and the rulings made there vividly demonstrate this.
Berkis, Stepanovs, Skoks and Sevcovs served as officials in Ventspils companies for years, meaning they actually served Lembergs by carrying out various scams. It seems that those times are back again. To keep defrauding Latvia out of money, they have once again joined forces and corruption is thriving in Latvia.