bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Saturday 19.10.2019 | Name days: Drosma, Drosmis, Elīna
LatviaLatvia

Exclusive | Competition Council’s chief on construction cartel; society needs to see the guilty pay the price

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

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

Skaidrīte Ābrama

Society needs to see the guilty pay the price. Those guilty need to step down from their posts, not go underground and wait until the storm has calmed down, BNN was told by Competition Council’s chairperson Skaidrīte Ābrama about the recently uncovered construction cartel and suspicions over involvement of high-ranking officials.

Construction cartels reach important locations in Latvia

The ongoing investigation of the construction cartel case, which involves some of the largest construction companies in Latvia and many ex and incumbent politicians, does not reveal which strategically important construction projects in the country could be involved in backstage corporate schemes.

BNN managed to find out from Ābrama that there are apartment and public buildings involved – generally important buildings. However, when asked about suspicions about buildings involved in the cartel agreement the construction of which is still in the planning phase, the chairperson of CC said such information will be made available only once the investigation has been finished.

Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) reported that multiple Latvian politicians are suspected of being involved in the construction cartel and accepting bribes in exchange for cover-up of illegal activities, which were very considerable.

So far it is known that ex-President of Latvia Raimonds Vējonis has been interviewed by KNAB and ex-Prime Minister of Latvia Māris Kučinskis was aware of the cartel problem during his term. Different media have also mentioned names of other well-known Latvian politicians – Edgars Jaunups, Dana Reizniece-Ozola, Jānis Reirs, Solvita Āboltiņa, Jānis Urbanovičs – in relation to their possible involvement in the construction cartel case.

When asked why it could have been beneficial for politicians to become involved in the cartel, the chairperson of CC comments: «Construction is a sector that constantly develops. European structure funds provide enormous amounts of money. Likely complicated projects and construction procurements make it easier to come up with amounts to pay for materials and labour force.»

She adds there are a great many ways to come up with large prices. «If participants of the cartel agree with one another on cutting up the market – this is for me, this is for you, I need to win here, I’ll start with this amount, please don’t offer lower – amounts presented in such procurements already include the so-called fees beneficial to politicians and attract their attention towards cartels,» comments Ābrama.

«There are many construction projects in process, costs are enormous because the objects in questions are important, which is especially attractive for companies participating in procurements,» she continues.

Reputation stain for the country

«This is a very loud case. If neither KNAB nor CC punishes the ones involved, it will be a major stain on the country’s reputation,» says Ābrama.

According to her, this case makes people doubt the people who were in charge at the time. «There is also the stain of shame to consider if there are also politicians KNAB has not mentioned yet,» comments Ābrama.

CC chairperson stresses that it is highly important for society to see that serious crimes do not go unpunished. «People also have to understand that cartels have a very negative effect on the country’s national economy. They lower our welfare. It is not like those involved in the cartel stole money just from public resources. This is all of our money they stole. Perhaps this is why it’s taking Latvia so long to reach the average European level of quality of life. We remain at the bottom among EU member states.»

Ābrama notes that cartels represent a major problem for Latvia – CC outlines this problem every year.

One of the main problems found during analyses is that the organizers of procurements sometimes encourage cartel activities.

«Take Rīgas satiksme’s nano-case, for instance. An official of Rīgas satiksme had agreed with companies on offers they would put up and who would win,» says Ābrama.

As for consequences from cartels and who should take responsibility, Ābrama notes: «I believe we have already paid for what we never received and what was very expensive. Putting together all the prices, if they reach several hundred thousands, you can afford building swimming pools, kindergartens, all kinds of social homes and whatnot. The money could be invested in other cities or labour force.»

Ābrama stresses this problem cannot be resolved in a «one-two punch», but it needs to be opposed. Punishing the ones responsible would be a good start.


Leave a reply

  1. Zerry says:

    Excellent outcome! Couple of years ago the foreign company participated a tender of big energy solution in Latvia. A lit of time and money spent in tender pricess. But that ”tender” was arranged in advance. Those rubbish people here in Lstvia does not understand that it is about the reputation of whole country ehat they are crashing. Just greed idiots, what else I could say?

Ventspils rushes to extend Lembergs’ mandate in freeport

The Ventspils City Council has summoned an emergency sitting to decide on the extension of the mandate in the board of the Ventspils Freeport Administration to suspended Mayor Aivars Lembergs, as well as Jānis Vītolņš, Didzis Ošenieks and Guntis Blumbergs, according to information seen by the BNN.

Estonian pension reform expected later in 2019

The pension reform of Estonia should be adopted later this year to start it in 2021, believes Estonian Social Affairs Minister, who has pointed out that the country’s ruling coalition has reached an agreement on the core issues of the reform.

Latvian minister: Less than half of Latvian nationals in UK have applied for residence

Latvian nationals in the UK should take into consideration different scenarios possible after Brexit and to protect themselves they should register their place of permanent residence with the British Home Office, said the Latvian Foreign Minister to Latvijas Radio.

Verdict in Latvenergo bribery case enters into force with prison sentences

A Latvian court ruling in one of the bribe-taking cases of state energy producer Latvenergo has entered into force. According to the verdict, prison sentences have been given to Latvenergo’s former vice-president, its former director of production and the head of the firm Energy Consulting.

Latvian football loses its head as Gorkšs ousted from federation chair

The turbulent Latvian Football Federation (LFF) has voted in an emergency meeting to remove its president Kaspars Gorkšs from office.

Latvian top companies by value – Latvenergo and Latvijas valsts meži

Energy producer Latvenergo, forestry company Latvijas valsts meži and computer network equipment maker Mikrotīkls had topped the list of the Top 101 Latvian companies, compiled annually by Nasdaq Riga and Prudentia.

Turkey agrees to pause its intervention in Syria for five days

Turkey, Kurdish SDF forces and the U.S. have reached an agreement to introduce a five-day ceasefire to allow Kurdish forces to retreat from the Turkish-Syrian border.

High-ranking Latvian policeman detained over bribery

The Latvian Internal Security Bureau (IDB) has detained on suspicion of bribery three persons: the deputy chief of the Public Order Police Bureau of the Latgale Regional Administration of the State police and two private individuals, including one former policeman.

Saeima greenlights opening of regional gas market

The Latvian Saeima has on Thursday, October 17, adopted amendments aimed at removing obstacles to the creation of a regional gas market and ensuring the functioning of the joint Latvian, Finnish and Estonian tariff system from January 1, 2020.

Lithuanian President Nausėda‘s 100 days in office: nothing messed up, communication improved

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda is marking this week the first hundred days of presidency. Both his supporters and ready-to-bite analysts agree than he has not messed up things, although some frown at his conformity with the Farmers and Greens Union-orchestrated Seimas and the Government.

Fragile, new Brexit deal reached between EU and UK

In the European Union’s negotiations on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, a new agreement has been reached on the day a decisive EU summit commenced in Brussels.

Court proceedings of Lembergs could restart only in 2020

The Riga Regional Court ruled on Thursday, October 17, that the lawyer of criminally-accused Latvian politician Aivars Lembergs has been given until January 2020 to read the materials of the case.

Latvia decides: Non-citizen children to receive citizenship from 2020

The Latvian parliament passed in the final reading on Thursday, October 17, the draft law that sets forth granting citizenship to new-born children of the non-citizens of Latvia.

Drugstores should focus on health care over money-making, Estonian Minister says

As Estonia is working on a pharmacy regulation reform aimed at reducing the influence of drug wholesalers on pharmacies, Estonian Social Affairs Minister Tanel Kiik has said pharmacy services ought to be focused on healthcare instead of business.

Confiscated EUR 29 mln: Latvia waiting for evidence from Ukraine

As Ukraine seeks to recover from Latvia 29 million euros that have been confiscated by a Latvian court, Ukraine has to provide evidence as it has promised to do, according to Latvian President Egils Levits.

E-commerce for prison inmates considered in Estonia

Estonian prisoners could be allowed to buy products using rather than using current prison shops, such is the option considered at the country’s Centre of Registers and Information Systems.

Riga to keep cooperating with ticket servicing firm, allocating EUR 20.6 mln

Rīgas satiksme, the transport company of the Latvian capital, will not terminate cooperation with SIA Rīgas karte, meaning that the population would pay 20.6 million euros for it.

Video: Evacuation in Lithuania amid fire at tyre recycling plant

Alytus in southern Lithuania was hit by a cloud of black smoke from a fire at a large tyre recycling plant. A hospital nearby has been evacuated.

Von der Leyen’s commission postponed after three commissioner candidates rejected

The next European Commission is to begin its term in office later than expected as the November 1 coronation has been postponed so that three member states could offer new candidates to replace a trio rejected by the European Parliament.

Probing infections in Latvia, salmonella found in meat from Poland

As infection outbreaks in Latvia are under investigation, laboratory tests showed salmonella bacteria in Polish-origin poultry samples taken from SIA Gaļsaimnieks.

Germany to allow Huawei equipment on 5G networks

The Chinese tech giant Huawei will not be banned from the 5G mobile networks in Germany as Berlin stated it wants to create «a level playing field» for vendors.

OECD: Bribery prevention results in Latvia disproportionate to cross-border risks

Latvia’s results in fighting bribery are still disproportionate with the risks of cross-border bribery and money laundering the country is subjected to, says the Working Group on Bribery of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

In pictures: Ukrainian President Zelenskiy in Latvia

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and the Ukrainian first lady made an official visit to Latvia on Wednesday, October 16.

airBaltic not planning to cancel flights with Airbus A220

airBaltic does not plan to reduce its flights with the Airbus A220-300 plane, after Swiss International Air Lines decided to do this being concerned over the aircraft’s engine problems, according to a statement of the Latvian airline on social media.

PM Kariņš recommends spending confiscated EUR 29 mln as single investment

Latvian Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has recommended the 29 million euros confiscated by the Riga Regional Court for being criminally-acquired to be spent on a one-off investment, according to an interview to LNT programme 900 sekundes.

Most read

Most commented