bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Sunday 22.07.2018 | Name days: Marija, Marika, Marina
LatviaLatvia

Ex-PM: Digitalgate defendant clutches at straws to avoid guilty verdict

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 rating, 1 votes)

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

Former Latvian prime minister Einars Repše (left) and Digitalgate accused Jurģis Liepnieks

Einars Repše, who served as Latvian prime minister during allegedly fraudulent attempts to introduce digital television in Latvia in the 2000s, stated that the defendant Jurģis Liepnieks, is clutching at straws, when criticising the case as being politically motivated in the defendant’s last word in appeal trial this week.

Liepnieks, who is seeking a not guilty verdict in the appeal case against his convictions of participating in large-scale fraud and money laundering as committed in a group on the basis a prior plan, evaluated in this last word that the case was politically motivated and that the then head of the Latvian government, Repše, had been interested in launching the Digitalgate criminal case.

In a telephone interview with BNN this week, Repše commented that in the early 2000s, the whole idea of the digitalisation of television had been progressive and directed at the development of Latvia, so the prime minister had sought to support it.

«However, the more we analysed the materials of the project, the more suspicious it seemed and prompted us to think that it is a way for some people to earn at the expense of the state. Therefore the case was given to the prosecutor’s office,» Repše recalled.

The former politician, who has also held the post of the President of the Bank of Latvia from 1991 to 2001, noted that there is nothing surprising about the accused trying to justify themselves and to blame prosecutors for their incompetence, even despite the existing evidence.

At the same time, Repše declined to comment accusations to defence lawyers, who had represented their clients, as Repše had not read the latest court materials.

Reportedly, in the appeal trial about the alleged large-scale Latvian-British scam to introduce digital television in Latvia, Liepnieks has been found not guilty in his charge of violating the boundaries of his professional duties motivated by avarice, but guilty in his charge of participating in large-scale fraud and money laundering as committed in a group on the basis a prior plan.

News portal Revolucija.eu reported on Wednesday, June 6, that in 2015 the Riga Regional Court in 2015 did not punish Liepnieks with a prison sentence and convicted Liepnieks to a fine of 72 000 euros, but the defendant did not agree with the verdict and appealed against it.

Final words by Liepnieks and Ēķis

On Wednesday, June 6, Liepnieks expressed his final word pleading not guilty. Moreover, he was convinced that «the verdict of the judge contains a maths mistake by several millions».

«And it is us, who are blamed for fraud. Perhaps, if there was no mistake, we would not be convicted?» Liepnieks asked rhetorically.

The other accused Andrejs Ēķis, a film producer and former head of LNT commercial television channel, explained in his final word: «What concerns me, in 1995 we noticed as an experiment that the digitalisation of television had started [abroad – BNN] and we understood that in the near future it could reach Latvia. I did everything to influence people in some way so that digital television would appear also in Latvia».

Ēķis, also said he was not guilty and stressed that he was «still fully convinced about what I was doing».

Court conclusions on defendants based on testimonies and evidence

Having analysed the court materials of the trial, Revolucija.eu made a summary of the court’s conclusions based on testimonies and evidence.

It wrote that it has been proven with testimonies and evidence that the employees of the Latvian State Radio and Television Centre (LVRTC), the Latvian Ministry of Transport and the independent television channel LNT were not aware of the work of Andrejs Ēķis and other persons as to beginning talks on introducing digital television in Latvia.

The set of evidence allows drawing the conclusion that the plan of Andrejs Ēķis and Jurģis Liepnieks had not been to carry out honest business operations, but the purpose of their activities had been to secretly engage in the digital television project, by creating the delusion of an entity to carry out the digital television project and during its realisation to acquire material gain.

It had also been planned to hide money behind the shareholders of the British-based Kempmayer Media Latvia (KLM), a company, where they and other persons from Latvia would be the final beneficiaries.

Revolucija.eu pointed out conclusions from the testimony by the businessman, former Latvian Prime Minister and former employer of Liepnieks, Andris Šķēle, namely, that he had several contacts and conversations with Liepnieks about him having been offered to take part in the project in relation to digital television.

Liepnieks was the enthusiast of this project, who would be able to attract the leading media specialists and he was in contact with the client, who was interested in the implementation of the digital television project in Latvia (KML).

As to the testimonies of Andrejs Ēķis, he has testified that a conversation with Liepnieks had taken place accidentally at a spontaneous initiative shown by Liepnieks. Ēķis had outlined to Liepineks his vision of the development of television in Latvia.

Liepnieks had grown very interested, offered Ēķis different methods of public relations, opportunities to attract funding and his contacts among politicians.

The court found that the evidence point to the role and significance of Ēķis and Liepnieks in organising the fraud, by reaching a mutual agreement. Conditions have been proven that the purpose of founding KML had been to fictitiously engage in the digital television project, by hiding the identities of the participants and real owners.

Liepnieks and Ēķis had no reason to discuss the involvement of KML in the project, since no official body had discussed the project at the time and had not made any decision of the shape and the way the digital television project could be implemented.

There is reason to conclude that the director of KLM, Michael Anthony Flanagan, had built the structure of KML participants on the basis of information received from Liepnieks and Ēķis, who gave information to businessman Gints Bandēns and lawyer Jānis Loze.

After the evaluation of evidence and the exclusion of all reasonable doubt, there is a reason to recognise that without any objective ground, for the reason that there was no contract and no official information at the Ministry of Transport, the LVRTC or its defunct subsidiary, the Digital Latvian State Radio and Television Centre (DLRTC), about the possible activity of KML in the digital television project, Liepnieks, Loze and businessman Uldis Kokins, who had previously worked with creating the structure of KML participants and discussed the possible role of KML, discussed with Flanagan the activities of KML in the introduction of digital television in Latvia and the provision of goods and services.

A judge in the trial established that the evidence provide sufficient ground to conclude that the motives of Liepnieks, Loze and Kokins had been criminal, namely, to receive funding with no reason during the implementation of the digital television project.

In the testimony by Michael Anthony Flanagan it was told that the process had been coordinated via Bandēns and Liepnieks and that Flanagan had received money and its purpose had been to pay for the stock capital.

According to the testimony by the ex-wife of Liepnieks, former director the business consulting and real estate management firm SIA Sofists, Diāna Liepniece (Urtāne), she had paid 5 000 British pounds in the account of Bandēns only to fulfil a request by Liepnieks.

Bandēns, in turn, stated in his testimony that there had been a payment of 5 000 British pounds in connection with KML or related companies that he had transferred to the British business consulting firm Wilton & Partners, at the request of Liepnieks.

On the grounds of the evidence, there was a reason to recognise that Liepnieks had paid for managing KML directly and via Bandēns, showed that Liepnieks had been personally interested in the existence of KML, although formally Liepnieks had not been a stakeholder in KML any more at the time.

According to the evidence, the plan of Liepnieks had not only been to support the digital television project, but he also had personal interest to receive material gain, which was done, by concluding a fictitious contract, involving SIA Sofists and a foreign firm Timber International Services S.A.

The fact that Loze sought the agreement of Liepnieks to the Contract on the Establishment of Digital Television in Latvia between KML and the DLRTC indicated that Liepnieks was aware of the case of the digital television and was interested in it.

In addition, Harijs Krongorns, an employee of the firm Uzņēmumu vadība un konsultācijas owned by Andris Šķēle, testified that he assumed that it had been the initiative of Liepnieks for a copy of the contract on the digital television to be e-mailed to Krongorns via Loze.

Circumstances that Liepnieks, who had no direct or indirect legal relations with the DLRTC, travelled to London for the signing of the contract with DLRTC’s representative Guntars Spunde, was present at the signing of the contract and explained the status of DLRTC to Flanagan at the meeting and gave a promise corresponding to the contract that the DLRTC would organise a bank guarantee, point to the role of Liepnieks as the organiser in the preparation of this contract.


Leave a reply

Week in Lithuania. Liberals ex-leader fails to recover confiscated cash

Eligijus Masiulis, a former Liberal Movement leader on trial in a major political corruption case, has failed to recover cash that was found and seized during searches of his home.

BNN summary of the week: open presidential election in Latvia and no more plastic bags for shoppers

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Future; Change; Fight; Decline; Business; Progress.

SRS: cash register reform still stagnates, but has become much faster than it was last year

The cash registers reform continues stagnating. However, it has become much faster than it was a year ago, as reported by State Revenue Service.

Specialists to search for solutions to topical environmental problems in Ventspils

On Friday, 20 July, a meeting was held between Ventspils Commercial Port representatives and specialists from State Environment Service.

Children with functional disorders to receive services financed by EU funds

Child invalids will have access to social services intended to improve their social skills and mobility. More than EUR 4.2 million has been allocated for this goal from the European Social Fund, as confirmed by Latvia’s Central Financing and Contracting Agency.

Producer price level in industry up 4.3% in Latvia

Compared to June 2017, the average level of producer prices in Latvian industry increased by 4.3 % in June 2018. Prices of products sold on the domestic market rose by 4.8 % and those of exported products by 3.7 %.

Total tax debts in Latvia in July – 1.212 billion euros

At the beginning of July total tax debts in Latvia, including outstanding debts, halted debts and debts applied with repayment term extensions, accounted for EUR 1.212 billion, which is 0.8% less than a month prior, according to data from the State Revenue Service.

Survey: every third Latvian resident has received illegal loan offers

Nearly every third resident in Latvia or 31% of respondents admit having received offers to use illegal loan services, as concluded in a survey performed by Latvian Alternative Financial Services Association and SKDS.

Libya opposed to EU's idea to establish migrant centres in North Africa

Libya is against the solution of the European Union to set up migrant centres in the North African country as a means to keep migrants from arriving in the bloc and Libya would not be convinced with financial support, its Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj has noted.

Arrest warrant on Catalan ex-President cancelled by Spain

The Supreme Court of Spain cancelled a European arrest warrant for former Catalan regional leader Carles Puigdemont, as Germany refused to extradite him to face accusations of rebellion for declaring the independence of Spain's region, Catalonia in 2017.

Latvian government plans to allow handing expired food to charity

Latvia’s Agriculture Ministry has prepared amendments to the Law on the Supervision of the Handling of Food that provide permission to hand over certain types of food products to charity after the end of their expiry date.

Estonian industrial producer prices up 2.9% since June 2017

Estonian industrial producer price index has risen by 2.9% between June 2017 and the first summer month this year, resulting in an increase of export prices as well, Estonian statisticians have estimated.

Putin urges NATO to quit «irresponsibly» developing ties with Ukraine, Georgia

Russia's President Vladimir Putin cautioned NATO against developing deeper relations with Ukraine and Georgia, evaluating such a policy was irresponsible and would have consequences for the military alliance.

Latvian parliament not in a hurry to support president Vejonis for a second term

Political parties represented in the Saeima are not eager to support President Raimonds Vējonis for his remainder for a second term.

Weather in Latvia will remain warm and even hot at times

Weather in Latvia in the nearest couple of days will be dictated by a cyclone. Because of that the sky will be partially covered by clouds; thunderstorms are also expected, as reported by State Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Hungary sued in EU Court for criminalising help to illegal immigrants

The European Union's executive body has stated that a law in Hungary that criminalises support for illegal immigrants is in breach with EU law and Hungary has now been referred to the European Court of Justice for the alleged non-compliance.

Estonians buy alcohol in Latvia; country loses EUR 20 million in six months

Latvian stores located close to the Latvian-Estonian border have sold 1.6 million litres of strong alcoholic drinks in the first half year of 2019. This means Estonia has lost more than EUR 20 million in taxes, according to data from Association of Estonian Alcohol Producers and Importers.

Lithuania’s election watchdog slams ruling LFGU over popular TV series

Political messages can be channeled in various ways and the ruling now Lithuanian party, LFGU has chosen a very delicate way of the communications – through a TV series featuring the beauty and the ambiance of Naisiai, a picturesque settlement in Siauliai district.

Association: around 3,3000 people know of their HIV infection but receive no treatment

HIV remains a serious problem in Latvia – around 3,300 people are aware of their status but receive no treatment and continue spreading the infection. Because of that, it is necessary to act quickly for Latvia to lose its status as HIV kingdom and limit the spread of the infection, says Baltic HIV Association, informing decision-makers and responsible officials in institutions and hospitals about the HIV/AIDS situation.

Driver shortage may force reduction of international road haulage volumes

Latvia’s road haulage companies have started experiencing shortage of drivers. On top of that, if employment conditions for residents of non-EU member states do not change, it may be necessary to reduce the volume of road haulage volumes, says Latvijas auto president Valdis Trēziņš.

Lattelecom’s turnover up 9% in first half-year of 2018

Lattelecom Group’s turnover reached EUR 98.7 million in the first half-year of 2018, growing by 9% in comparison with the same period of 2017, according to unaudited financial results.

1,140 fewer births registered in Latvia in 2017

Since 2016 the number of births in Latvia is declining again. Compared to 2016, a total of 1,140 births fewer were registered in 2017. Also, the provisional number of births registered over the first six months of 2018 (9,664 children) is by 664 children smaller than that registered over the respective period of 2017.

Citadele Bank decides to reform Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office

Citadele Bank has decided to reform its Lithuanian subsidiary as a branch office, as confirmed in the statement the bank submitted to Nasdaq Riga.

Russian pension age hike discussed amid protest outside Duma

As the Russian paliament votes on the proposal to gradually increase he pension age to 65 for men and 63 for women, some 200 people were seen protesting against the reform in Moscow.

Corruption watchdog chief says bureau has done no illegal actions

After going through Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau’s past investigative activities, the bureau’s chief – Jēkabs Straume – found it confusing that officers often took no appropriate actions after acquiring evidence or receiving indications regarding necessary steps.