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Latvian Railways leases most of its locomotives to company linked to oligarch threesome

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

Latvian state railway company LDz leases seven of its 11 locomotives to private company Baltijas tranzīta serviss (BTS), which is linked to Ainārs Šlesers, Andris Šķēle and Aivars Lembergs, often described as the three oligarchs of Latvia, reported TV3 programme Nekā Personīga.

Shortly before the Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau of Latvia detained former president of LDz Uģis Magonis with allegedly half a million euros given by Estonian millionaire Oleg Ossinovski, LDz purchased from Ossinovski’s firm four locomotives. These were Ukrainian-made 2TE116s. The prosecutor believes that these are the exact locomotives that Magonis had received the bribe for.

In total, LDz owns 11 locomotives of this exact type. The majority of them, seven, have been leased to BTS, where the wife of Magonis, has recently become a minority shareholder, according to Nekā personīga programme.

The journalists have established that a locomotive of this model and age costs an average of two million euros. In the LDz group, LDz ritošā sastāva serviss bought the locomotives, but LDz Cargo is the firm that actually deals with cargo transportation.

The parent company, LDz, owns more locomotives than it needs. Out of a total of 11, only four have been leased to LDz Cargo, but seven have been leased to BTS.

For every locomotive, LDz ritošā sastāva serviss receives a similar lease fee between 200 and 300 thousand euros a year.

Seems like LDz came to help

Nekā personīga reported that the largest owner of BTS is Riga Commercial Port, which is owned by the families of former politicians Andris Šķēle and Ainārs Šlesers, persons linked to Mayor of Ventspils and crime case defendant Aivars Lembergs and the head of the company, Ralfs Kļaviņš.

Ten years ago, BTS bought from Estonia several locomotives of this type, but Ivars Sormulis, the board chairman of BTS, explained to Nekā personīga that they were not able to take on larger risks and buy more.

In 2011, LDz subsidiary LDz ritošā sastāva serviss bought six such locomotives. One was leased to LDz Cargo, but the rest – to BTS. Two years later LDz ritošā sastāva serviss bought one more and another four in 2015. In the end, out of the 11 locomotives bought by LDz ritošā sastāva serviss seven are used by a private company, reports Nekā Personīga.


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