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Kariņš: Ventas osta to ensure professional and depoliticized port management

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Aivars Lembergs, USA, sanctions, corruption, OFAC, Ventas osta, Ventspils Freeport

Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš

Ventas osta, the state company created to perform the functions of Ventspils port, will provide a professional and depoliticized management of the port, says Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš.

The prime minister said that after US sanctions, it was decided to implement the plan outlined in the government declaration in regards to entrusting Ventspils port’s functions to a separate state company. Previously it was planned to implement the plan in spring 2020, but the sanctions sped up the process, explained the prime minister.

The government’s head stressed that after US sanctions previously imposed on Ventspils Freeport authority have since been lifted. Now it is the prime minister’s objective is ensuring unhindered operations of the freeport. It was necessary to make sure only state representatives are able to influence the decision-making process at the port and not Ventspils City Council representatives, considering the sanctions imposed against certain people, said Kariņš.

The prime minister praised Latvia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry’s accomplishment in lifting sanctions against Ventspils Freeport authority in talks with US Department of the Treasury Office for Foreign Asset Control (OFAC).

Even after this decision by USA it is planned to gradually reform Ventspils and Riga freeports into businesses complying with OECD principles, said Kariņš.

When asked about the reasons for the removal of sanctions against Ventspils Freeport authority, the prime minister said USA made this decision based on all implemented and planned actions of Latvia’s government «in order to inadvertently prevent the influence of people under sanctions over Ventspils Freeport and Ventspils freeport authority».

On December 9, the OFAC, based on the so-called Magnitsky law, imposed sanctions on a number of persons and their organizations in Europe, Asia and Latin America, including on Aivars Lembergs.

Read also: Linkaits on port management model: we have to look forward, not back

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.

On 18 December, OFAC announced removal of sanctions from Ventspils Freeport and Ventspils Freeport authority.

Sanctions were removed from Ventspils Freeport after Aivars Lembergs stepped down from the freeport’s board and Latvian government executed measures to put an end to his influence over the court, according to the press-statement from the US Department of the Treasury.


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