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Freeport authority: Ventspils port has returned to operating normally

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Ventspils, sanctions, OFAC, Aivars Lembergs, Ventspils Freeport authority, Ventas ostaWith the US Department of Treasury Office for Foreign Asset Control (OCMA) lifting sanctions against Ventspils Freeport and Ventspils Freeport authority, the port has returned to operating normally, as announced by Ventspils Freeport authority public relations head Inga Ieviņa.

«With the announcement from US Department of Treasury Office for Foreign Asset Control regarding abolishment of sanctions, Ventspils Freeport authority, as well as companies active at the port are able to continue their operations,» as outlined in the port’s statement. Currently there are two ships at the port – one dry cargo vessel and one tanker. Three more ships are expected to arrive today – a tanker, dry cargo vessel and a ferry.

On Thursday, 19 December, Ventspils Freeport CEO Andris Purmalis met with representatives of all terminals and stevedore companies active at the port «to thank businessmen for their understanding, responsiveness and psychological resilience in the crisis situation the freeport had ended up».

Purmalis stressed that each port terminal should see itself in the port’s investment plan. This is why the CEO will soon organize individual meetings with each terminal to discuss how the freeport’s authority can participate in improving the terminal’s and the entire port’s cargo turnover.

Ventspils Freeport authority ‘thanked the Cabinet of Ministers, especially the transport and foreign affairs ministers, as well as employees of ministries who worked double time to achieve this decision in the shortest period of time possible,’ the port’s statement mentions.

«Although Ventspils Freeport’s management has been fully handed over to the state, Ventspils port was and remains an important part of Ventspils municipality. Trust and support from cooperation partners was especially important over the course of the past several days. There is also the joint effort put into finding a solution to this critical situation. We would especially like to thank banks that looked into this problematic situation and assisted in resolving it,» said Ieviņa.

On 9 December, US Department of Treasury Office for Foreign Asset Control used the so-called Magnitsky Law to impose sanctions on the suspended Mayor of Ventsils Aivars Lembergs, who is accused of committing serious crimes, and four legal persons associated with him – Ventspils Freeport authority, Ventspils Development Agency, Business Development Association and Latvian Transit Business Association.

On Wednesday, 18 December, Ventspils Freeport authority was excluded from the list of OFAC sanctions.

More on this topic: Linkaits: creation of Ventas osta will be halted after studying OFAC decision

After 8 January, 2020, no financial operations with legal persons under sanctions will be possible, because banks will not service them any longer. Lembergs will be able to maintain one account to use for transactions needed to cover basic needs (receive pension, pay taxes and duties, purchase food, pay for rent or mortgage, public utilities, etc.).

Sanctions also apply to companies controlled by Lembergs or companies in which he is listed as beneficial owner.

Finance and Capital Market Commission (FKTK) has developed rules for the way banks can check if the company’s listed beneficial owner is the actual beneficial owner.

State institutions and lawyers recommend avoiding working with persons and organizations included on the list of sanctions. Cooperation with persons under sanctions puts participants at risks of secondary sanctions or other forms of limitations.

In response to Ventspils Freeport’s addition to the list of sanctions, Latvia’s Saeima amended laws to put both Riga Freeport and Ventspils Freeport under state management. On 17 December the government supported Transport Ministry’s proposal to create a new state company to manage Ventspils port’s territory and operations.

USA later lifted sanctions against Ventspils Freeport authority.


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