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Monday 23.07.2018 | Name days: Magda, Magone, Mērija
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CPCB: Riga City Council does not effectively combat corruption

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There were at least 18 different kinds of corruption scandals that hit Riga City Council and its institutions in the last 18 years. Deputy Chief of the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (CPCB) Juta Strike believes that there are no practical initiatives currently in play by Riga City Council to combat corruption.

Most of these criminal cases were or are still being investigated by the CPCB. During this time, the officers of CPCB investigated officials of different rank – house management workers, officer of the Municipal Police, officials of the City Development Department, Riga central market, Rīgas Satiksme, and other important institutions managed by Riga City Council.

During the last 18 years, the CPCB carried out investigations starting from simple criminal proceedings to massive corruption schemes at Riga City Council, such as the international Daimler corruption case and the so called oligarch investigations.

The 2008 initiated Riga City Council corruption case was already made notable not only with the detainment of public officials, but also with an all-time largest bribe – a total of more than 1 million EUR.

Two years later, the Daimler case would exceed all previous corruption cases in terms of the size of the bribe. It was revealed during investigations that there were more than 5.26 million EUR paid in bribes in the period from 2002 to 2007. Additionally, it was concluded that a total amount of over one million LVL in bribes was given to some state institution in the period from 2002 to 2010 in the interest of some foreign company.

The last of the publicly known CPCB criminal proceedings is related to the possible corruption offences at the Housing and Environment Department. Last year, the bureau had arrested seven individuals, including the manager of the Housing and Environment Department Arija Stabina and two other Board workers.

The CPCB believes that this official was, perhaps, accepting bribes for making beneficial decisions in the interest of specific persons. The latest publicly available information states that the CPCB had investigated 12 cases in which bribery took place in relation to acquiring rent rights for municipal apartments within Riga.

The CPCB was not the only institution involved in corruption combating – the State Police was involved as well. The police has noted several massive schemes in play at the municipal Rīgas nami enterprise.

The police is also investigating the scandalous Southern Bridge case as well. The investigation was initiated following the conclusions of the State Audit. As it turned out, officials of Riga City Council had allowed an unjustified increase of construction expenses and squandered municipal funds worth a total of 27.22 million LVL. This was done by adopting a non-beneficial construction work financing model.

The CPCB continued to carry out smaller scale inspections about possible violations at Riga municipality. The institution announced this January that it will be inspecting the legality of officials’ actions in regard to Rīgas satiksme‘s announced results of the shuttle bus carrier contest. The bureau also plans to perform an investigation in regard to the work of Riga City Council’s officials with the approval of the so-called “blizzard tickets”.

Riga is the largest Latvian municipality with a large number of political officials, executive bodies and different capital associations, as well as strong money circulation in the organization of procurement projects, real estate management and in other municipal activities.

Strike admits that the Riga City Council and its bodies have plenty of honest workers, but investigations show that “corruption has a strong presence within Riga City Council”. In addition, it shows that municipal corruption has had a long-lasting and systematic presence. She notes that there are no notable corruption prevention activities in play at Riga City Council. “I cannot say that there are any initiatives to combat corruption. I say this in regard to the whole of the municipality,” – Strike said. “We will definitely have much work to do in this municipality,” – she added.

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