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Saturday 25.01.2020 | Name days: Sigurds, Zigurds
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Company that worked on Latvia’s eastern border might end up in hot water

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Internal Security Bureau’s (IDB) investigation of the construction work performed at Latvia’s eastern border could potentially result in Interior Affairs Ministry reconsidering relations with construction company Igate. Nevertheless, no rushed decisions will be made, said Interior Affairs Minister Sandis Ģirģens in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

The minister confirmed that IDB has detained the now ex-chief of Latvia’s State Border Guard (VRS) Normunds Garbars and two employees of a construction company. The investigation is associated with the reinforcement of Latvia’s eastern borders, said the politician.

When asked if this means the fence there may have to be rebuilt, the minister did not answer clearly. He only said that certain aspects of work provided by the contracted company do not meet specifications outlined in the contract.

Ģirģens stressed that this will be a test for IDB investigators’ ability to legally prove evidence.

«Generally the system is becoming cleaner, which is good,» said the minister. «As long as I am Latvia’s Interior Affairs Minister, there will be no untouchable people in different services, be they officials or generals.»

IDB has detained Garbars and two employees of construction company SIA Ceļu būvniecības sabiedrība Igate, according to information from LETA.

Igate representative Jānis Stundiņš has confirmed that two of the company’s employees have been detained. Both of them were involved in the border infrastructure construction project. «For some time IDB has requested information about this project, and Igate has cooperated with IDB by providing requested information,» said Stundiņš.

In 2015 VRS signed a contract with Igate for the construction of infrastructure along the state border. In October 2017 the government allowed Interior Affairs Ministry to take on long-term financial commitments in order to divert more than EUR 31 million and thereby finance the reinforcement of Latvia’s border with Russia and Belarus in the period between 2017 and 2020.

Planned expenditures provided for diverting no more than EUR 20.55 million towards establishment of border infrastructure along Latvian-Russian border and no more than EUR 10.68 million for the same purpose along Latvian-Belorussian border.

IDB reports having detained Deputy Head of Armaments, Logistics and Technical Resources Management, Headquarters of VRS, the ex-chief of VRS, as well as two representatives of a road construction company over suspicions of crimes committed in construction work associated with the State Border Guard’s procurement of infrastructure construction services.

During the construction process experts uncovered possible diversion from agreed upon specifications, as well as unnecessary logging along the border. On top of that, signs of money laundering were found in the contracted company’s financial operations, which is why an investigation was commenced, IDB explains.

No detailed information is reported in the interest of the ongoing investigation

Normunds Garbars retired from his service in the State Border Guard in January 2019.


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