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Sunday 05.04.2020 | Name days: Vidaga, Aivija, Vija
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As scandals continue in Lithuania Latvian Railway praises company of ex-KGB agent’s wife

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvian state company Latvian Railway (LDz) has had contracts worth dozens of million euros signed with the company owned by ex-KGB agent Yuri Simonenkov’s wife – SIA Sigmen – since 2005. While in Lithuania dealings with people who may or may not have ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin have caused a scandal and have gathered the combined attention of both ministries and security services, Latvia acts carefully, whereas LDz goes as far as praise the reputation of its partner.

It should be said that at the beginning of June Lithuanian public media LRT journalists had uncovered that Latvian railway company Lietuvos geležinkeliai had signed contracts with Sigmen worth EUR 130 million in spite of Simonenkov having ties with other ex-KGB agents and officers, as well as people close to the Russian president.

Officially Sigmen is owned by Simonenkov’s wife Irina Simonenkova. Data from Lursoft shows that she and Aleksandrs Maksimovs are true beneficiaries there. Both are board members in the company.

Soon after LRT reported this, Lithuania’s Transport and Communications Ministry asked security services to help assess threats the dealings between Lithuanian railway company and Sigmen could cause.

Latvia’s LDz has also signed contracts with Sigmen over the years. Procurement Monitoring Bureau’s public data shows that the worth of contracts reaches EUR 25.6 million counting from 2013. In 2012, LDz and Sigmen signed a procurement contract worth EUR 17.1 million. The worth of another contract, signed in 2019, was EUR 4.7 million.

The worth of contracts signed before 2013 also reached millions. PMB’s data shows that LDz and Sigmen have signed mutual contracts since 2005.

Latvia’s Transport Ministry’s representative Iveta Kancēna told BNN that the minister does not plan to ask security services to step in and investigate LDz’s dealings with Sigmen.

She explains that potential partners are picked as a result of procurement processes. The ministry does not receive any information about any contracts because that would breach requirements of established regulations.

LDz representative Ella Pētermane, on the other hand, told BNN that «every potential partner is carefully checked using different databases». Potential partners are checked for being added to sanction lists and whether or not their officials and workers were at some point engaged in money laundering activities. If such information is found, no contract is signed.

LDz representative stresses that Sigmen is a long-standing partner. She adds that the State Revenue Service has put this company among Silver-level companies in 2019.

Pētermane offered no comments on what Lithuanian journalists had reported about Simonenkov’s dealings with Lithuanian railway company.

Latvian State Security Service reports having information that LDz has signed contracts with Sigmen for a long time. However, currently the service has no information to suggest those dealings could present threats to national security.

BNN tried contacting Seaima’s National Security Committee head Māris Kučinskis, but without results.

Lithuanian journalists report that Simonenkov worked together with Yevgeni Roldugin in Latvia’s KGB branch. The latter went to KGB school together with Vladimir Putin. Roldugin’s brother Sergei Rodugin is one of the closest friends of the Russian president.

Simonenkov started his business in Latvia with Skonto, which he founded together with other former KGB officers, Lithuanian journalists report. Until 2008, when USA applied sanctions against it for money laundering, Simonenkov owned Multibanka. Additionally, until 2016 Simonenkov had a joint business with Sergei Nosov, who is one of Putin’s advisors.

Observers told journalists that Simonenkov’s business may still be associated with ex-KGB structures.

Before the collapse of the Soviet Union, KGB prepared its agents to found their own businesses so that they are able to use their contacts, including with the criminal world. KGB even provided start capital, claims Lithuanian political observer Marius Laurinavičius.

«They left agents in Baltic States so that they engage in business, acquire influence and are able to influence political processes,» he says.


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