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Wednesday 29.01.2020 | Name days: Valērijs, Aivars

Court finally reconvenes to review Lembergs’ case after a long break

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Aivars Lembergs, sanctions, USA, OFAC, Riga Regional Court, prosecution, charges, accused

Aivars Lembergs

After a break that lasted more than six months, Riga Regional Court reconvened again at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, 13 January, to continue reviewing the criminal case involving the suspended Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs.

In October, the court gave Lembergs’ new lawyer Genādijs Ivankins time until 12 January 2020 to go through materials of the case and prepare his speech for debates.

On 13 January the court planned to listen to Ivankin’s debate speech, inviting him to comment on charges on which defenders of other accused persons have yet to comment on in the past 30 sessions.

As previously reported, after 25 June Lembergs’ previous lawyer Raimonds Krastiņš announced he will be unable to continue his client’s defence. Then Lembergs submitted a notification that his other lawyers – Irina Kauke and Aldis Alliks – will also discontinue defending him. On top of that, the accused had failed to find a new lawyer by the beginning of September 2019.

Because Lembergs needed to have a lawyer for future court sessions, the court decided in accordance with the Criminal Procedure Law informed the court district’s senior sworn lawyer about the need to secure a lawyer for the accused in the criminal process. Ivankins was appointed as Lembergs’ defence on 21 August. He requested six months to go through materials of the case, which was provided to him.

Prosecutor Juris Juriss had previously told BNN that from what he sees, Lembergs has been doing all he can to prolong the court process. «The case is being prolonged using the search for a new lawyer as an excuse. We had seen signs of this well before. State prosecution believes one of the lawyers has started submitting a separate order at each and every court session,» Juriss comments on the situation with Lembergs’ lawyer Irina Kauke.

Kauke has taken part both in the pre-trial criminal process and the trial from the very beginning. However, in the past several months, according to Juriss, the lawyer has been creating an artificial scenario – intentionally references orders that allegedly apply on specific debate speeches. Thereby Lembergs was able to justify calling Kauke a partial lawyer for him.

«Our prediction came true after Raimonds Krastiņš’s announcement regarding discontinuation of his service due to an illness. Now it looks as if Lembergs is left without defence, because Kauke is allegedly not a full lawyer to Lembergs because of the many staged orders. This is where state accusation sees malicious intent. The soil for his was also prepared intentionally – specifically to prolong the criminal process with excuses of the search for derfence, said the prosecutor.»

It should be said that even judge Boriss Geimans no longer participates in court sessions. The reason for this is his poor health.

More on this topic: Leading judge in Lembergs’ criminal case leaves due to health problems

Prosecutor’s in charge of the case want eight years of prison with confiscation of property for Lembergs, as well as fine worth 150 minimal wages or EUR 64 500. Prosecutors had commenced their debate session in February 2019 and had concluded it in March.

The prosecutor’s office accuses Lembergs of bribery in especially large volumes, money laundering, forgery of official status, participation in monetary deals he is not allowed to take part in due to his official status, as well as abuse of official power and other crimes. Anrijs Lembergs and Ansis Sormulis are also among the accused in this criminal case.

The prosecutor’s office has requested sentencing Anrijs Lembergs to a prison sentence of five years and six months with confiscation of property, whereas the requested sentence for Sormulis is seven years in prison with confiscation of property, as explained by prosecutor Juris Juriss.

All three of the accused deny their guilt.

On 9 December 2019, based on the so-called Magnitsky Law, OFAC imposed sanctions against a number of persons and their organizations in Europe, Asia and Latin America, including Lembergs, for corruption.

After 9 January, any financial transactions with Lembergs, Ventspild Development Agency, Business Development Association and Latvian Transit Business Association will not be possible, because banks will not service them.

Lembergs will be able to maintain one account to receive benefits and pensions, pay taxes, as well as to perform transactions to cover basic needs and pay bills.

This much is made clear from Finance and Capital Market Commission’s (FKTK) amendments of 23 December 2019 to Sanction Risk Management Regulations, which provides for unified requirements in regards to applicable limitations, as well as exceptions to which financial limitations are non-applicable to allow for covering a person’s basic needs or basic economic operations.

On 18 December 2019, OFAC announced removal of sanctions from Ventspils Freeport and Ventspils Freeport authority.

Sanctions were lifted from Ventspils Freeport after Lembergs stepped down from his positions in the board of the freeport and Latvian government took measures to exclude his influence over the port, according to the statement released by the US Department of the Treasury.

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