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Saturday 19.10.2019 | Name days: Drosma, Drosmis, Elīna

From two court hearings scheduled for the same day, Lembergs opts for Riga

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Aivars Lembergs

On October 17, Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs is having to court hearings on the same day. Riga District Court is to hear the criminal case with Lembergs being accused of abuse of office, while the High Court of England is set to make Lembergs pledge on his assets.

However, Lembergs has opted for Riga and London has already been notified he will not attend the court hearing.

Despite Ventspils businessman and Lembergs’ fierce opponent Olegs Stepanovs has already told Riga District Court that he will not be able to make it to October 17 court hearing, Lembergs has asked not to cancel the hearing, reports the portal Delfi.

According to security measures imposed on Lembergs, in order to leave the country, he would have to ask for a permission from Riga District Court, which he has not done.

Lembergs told the portal that the court hearing in Riga was scheduled already a long time ago. However, asked whether he would go to London, he told it depends on whether Riga District Court will go on hearing the case on that particular date.

According to Lembergs, he has already notified the court in London that he might not attend the hearing. He also said that he has no lawyers to represent his interests in the High Court of England. Asked whether he has filed an appeal for a permit to leave the country, Lembergs said that there should not be any difficulties to do that.

The news portal BNN already reported that Lembergs is obliged to pledge to the High Court of England and Wales all his assets located worldwide, whose value exceeds 10 thousand sterling pounds.

Court action requires that Lembergs discloses all the names of property «regardless whether it is indicated in his ownership or not, individually owned or in co-ownership».

This decision was adopted during court proceedings that became known to a wider public last summer, when evidence was leaked from the case materials, indicating that Andris Skele and Aivars Lembergs once agreed on the privatization of the Latvian Shipping Company.

The decision on adjustments of claims lists a number of assets which the High Court of England and Wales interpreted as Lembergs’ properties. For example, the Court considers that all property seized by the Latvian Prosecutor General’s Office can be deemed as Lembergs’ assets. These properties include: a building in Riga, O.Vacietis Street, beneficiaries’ shares in different Latvian and foreign companies, such as Venceb, Ventbunkers, Inter-Rīga, Puses, Ventplac, Euridice, Hinch, Kaywood, Yelverton and others, valuables, such as cufflinks, securities, Opel Tigra car, as well as accounts at a number of Latvian and foreign banks.

While Riga District Court is reviewing a criminal case in which Lembergs is charged with abuse of official status, including, taking bribes on a large scale, laundering illegally obtained funds or other property, as well as in other crimes.

On September 27, Riga Regional Court continued interrogating businessman Olegs Stepanovs, a witness in Ventspils Mayor Aivars Lembergs criminal case.

He was asked to comment on how he got to know the accused persons – Aivars Lembergs, his son Anrijs Lembergs and Ansis Sormulis, Ventspils transit business manager, reports LETA.

Stepanovs told that he met Lembergs in late 80s of the past century, when both of them were Ventspils City Council deputies. In the course of time, he also got acuianted with Anrijs Lembergs, however, they did not have any business relationship.

According to Stepanovs, he met Sormulis when both of them started to work at Ventspils Trade Port. Back then, Sormulis was the financial manager, while Stepanovs – Board Chairman.

He also pointed out that he was acquainted with businessmen Ainars Gulbis and Vladimirs Krastins – victims in the criminal case. Stepanovs knows also Maris Forsts, Swiss lawyer Rudolf Meroni and the former lawyer of the Lembergs family – Gints Laivins-Laivenieks, the current AS Latvijas Naftas Transits board member.

As a witness, Stepanovs was asked to recall events of early 1990s, when Gulbis and Forsts entered transit business. He told about AS Ventrans foundation. According to Stepanovs, Ventrans was established without participation of physical persons, however, he recalls that Aivars Lembergs was the leader of the process and came up with various initiatives.

As reported, Lembergs is accused of accepting especially large bribes, illegally acquired funds, laundering, participation in material transactions where he was forbidden to take part due to his post, abuse of office and other crimes.

All three of the accused – Aivars Lembergs, Anrijs Lembergs and Ansis Sormulis – do not understand and acknowledge the charges.

In approximately 140 volumes, the case combines two criminal procedures filed to the court by the prosecutor’s office in the second half of 2008.

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