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Tuesday 19.03.2019 | Name days: Jāzeps

Businessman Martinsons’ fast loan company’s paid interest compost most of Ameriks’ income

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUA month ago, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau performed 30 searches and detained 7 people as part of an investigation of possible corruptive activities at Rīgas satiksme. Among those people is Honour to Serve Riga political party member Aleksandrs Krjačeks.

Andris Ameriks denied any relation to the possible author of the bribery scheme – Māris Martinsons. Nekā personīga found out that Martinsons owned both fast loan companies from which Ameriks had received several hundred thousand euros – the largest portion of his income from recent years.

In 2014 Mogo fast loan company emitted bonds. Even before they ended on the exchange, bonds were bought by ex-Rīgas satiksme board member Andrejs Požarnovs. Ameriks later bought bonds, too. One-third of Mogo was owned by Martinsons’ owned company, the programme reports.

NP also notes that Mogo bonds are some of the most profitable on the Baltic exchange. Owners receive one-tenth of the total value of bonds in interest every year. The price of a single bond is EUR 1,000. Those that bought bonds first receive the biggest benefits – over the course of seven years they will have increased their initial deposits by 70%.

Mogo bonds are owned by politicians – Andris Ameriks, his son Agris, as well as Baldone municipality deputy and ex-Rīgas satiksme board member Andrejam Požarnovs

Mogo bonds were made available on the exchange in November 2014. But they were only released in March – people in the know were able to purchase then more than half a year in advance.

Among those people were Agris Ameriks and Andrejs Požarnovs. Ameriks bought bonds worth EUR 250,000 around May.

Agris Amerisk mentioned in a conversation with NP: «Those are public bonds – anyone can purchase them».

NP: «Are you acquainted with Mogo businessmen? Did you know Martinsons was one of the owners there at the time?»

Agris Ameriks: «I have not the slightest clue if this was or is still the case. I don’t know anything.»

NP: ‘Perhaps you could tell us who recommended you to purchase bonds there.»

Agris Ameriks: «Well, I really can’t remember.»

NP: «Did a bank or someone else tell you the profitability volume there?»

Agris Ameriks: «Well… the bank offered this option, and I considered. It is clear there are high risks, considering it is not easily liquidated paper. But I made the decision because I’m prepared to take on risks and invest».

Andrejs Požarnovs started in municipal elections in Riga in 2013 in a joint list of Harmony and Honour to Serve Riga. He was not elected in the end, but was appointed to the board of Rīgas satiksme. Almost a year later – together with Agris Ameriks – he bought Mogo bonds worth EUR 200,000.

NP: «How did you purchase these bonds?»

Požarnovs: «Every bank has brokers that specialize in bond sale and purchase. I don’t do this on my own.»

The programme notes that Požarnovs and Agris Ameriks are Swedbank clients. The bank’s explanations imply bonds were purchased because the clients had requested it. The exchange and Mogo bond release company BlueOrange refused to comment on transactions.

On 17 December Andris Ameriks told NP: «About bonds mentioned as the main proof of my alleged illegalities, I can say I had purchased them through my bank, and this opportunity, my dear media representatives, is open to any person in Latvia and outside. There are no exclusive offers. Company bonds are featured on Nasdaq Riga. Anyone can purchase them».

A year ago Ameriks owned Mogo bonds worth EUR 2.5 million. In 2017 he received EUR 200,000 from Mogo in interest funds, NP reports.

Mogo – EUR 204,166

4Finance – USD 35,250

Ameriks refused to speak with the company. His advisor, Mareks Gailītis, explained this: «Thank you for an opportunity to appear on Nekā personīga, but Mr. Ameriks has decided to decline this time because all of the information association with purchase of bonds can be found in his declaration and speech on this matter.»

NP notes that purchase of bonds is not a crime. The exchange features bonds with higher profitability. However, the vice-mayor purchased them with promissory notes from a company associated with Martinsons.

Andris Ameriks told the programme on 17 December 2018: «I’ve known businessman Māris Martinsons for several years – similar to other people in Riga and Latvia. I believe my acquaintance with him is the root cause for all suspicions against me.»

Ameriks has had to explain his relationship with Martinsons in the past. Four years ago, Finance Policy performed searches in 100 locations associated with a VAT scheme. Martinsons’ company Moduls-Riga was involved in this case. Under Ameriks’ ‘watchful eye’ in Riga City Council’s Property Department this company was an often winner, stresses NP.

In a conversation with NP on 7 September 2014, when journalists asked Ameriks about his relationship with Martinsons and his company, the deputy said: «There is nothing! I only know it exists.»

NP notes that at the time of this conversation Ameriks’ family had already purchased Mogo bonds. Ameriks had also lent Martinsons’ company registered in Belize half a million euros, which he recovered with 20% interest.

Journalists note that in 2016 Ameriks and his wife had returned together with Martinsons family from Antalya. Ameriks’ advisor Mareks Gailītis and his family were also in the same plane, as was the deputy head of Harmony’s faction Riga City Council Mihails Kameņeckis.

Mogo’s owners are hidden behind foreign companies. Nevertheless, NP managed to find out that when officials of Riga municipality started purchasing bonds of this company, Martinsons owned one-third of shares there, according to minutes of a shareholder meeting that took place in Luxembourg.

Once the construction VAT scheme came to light in 2014, Martinsons disappeared from his companies. His son became the owner. Later some of the shares were sold to some Maltese company, where the true beneficiary is one Jekaterina Nikuļina, NP reports.

SIA Modus-Riga board chairman Martinsons commented on 7 September 2014: «If this is personally against me, then what about the link to the company? This is the reason why I have stepped down from Moduls management. The official announcement will come next week, because I don’t want the company to suffer if I come under fire. I don’t know how to comment on it. Let it stay for every person’s own conscience.»

NP adds that 4Finance founders and Mogo shareholders Aigars Kesenfelds, Māris Keišs, Kristaps Ozols and Alberts Polis had registered companies at the same address as the manager of Martinsons’ property Nikuļina in Malta. This address is also mentioned in documents of Latvia’s Enterprise Register for one more company – Nils Ušakovs’ freelance advisor, insurance businessman Ēriks Teilāns’ Septentrio Holdings.

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