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Wednesday 08.04.2020 | Name days: Dana, Dans, Danute, Edgars

Lawyers: Olainfarm talks should be analysed by law enforcement institutions

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Alvis Pīlāgs, ENAP, Olainfarm, Pāvels Rebenoks, Ralfs Nemirotalks, recordings, Irina Maligina, lawyers, ethics, KNAB,Analysis of recorded Olainfarm talks should be entrusted to law enforcement institutions, and all lawyers should distance themselves from people like Mārtiņš Krieķis. «This would be fair,» said board member of United Multidisciplinary Trade Union, lawyer Alvis Pīlāgs and chairman of Latvian Lawyers Association Rihards Bunka about Krieķis as «person without ethics» in an interview to BNN.

Pīlāgs stresses that the aforementioned lawyer’s statements on being «a person without ethics» is cynicism of the highest order. «How far can you go?»

Mārtiņš Krieķis’ comments about «Olainfarm inheritor wars», as far as BNN is aware, were submitted to Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) and State Police Economic Crimes Enforcement Unit at the end of 2018. However, while the investigation progresses «at turtle speed», it becomes clear there is no unified code of ethics for lawyers, BNN was told by Bunka and Pīlāgs.

In regards to Krieķis’ statements mentioning schemes for circumventing payment of taxes, Pīlāgs makes it clear the recordings of talks should be handed over to law enforcement institutions. «If there are any hidden intentions aimed at committing any specific criminal acts related to tax payment or other crimes, it is in the competence of law enforcement institutions – State Police, KNAB – to look into this matter. This is particularly important because recordings are publicly accessible.»

Read also: Olainfarm talks. Krieķis indifferent to inheritors’ interests – the goal is «getting the digits»

«Only law enforcement institutions that were provided recordings are able to apply fines or other penalties,» said Pīlāgs. He also stresses it is necessary to assess not only the content but also its fitness with factual actions. «Has Krieķis implemented this intention, which stage is everything at – is it the preparation for the crime or an attempt [to act illegally], does he recommend committing a crime to his client? There are multiple stages. Degrees of each one should be assessed carefully, too.»

Bunka says the situation becomes simple when it is about criminal liability, because there is a separate section of the law for incitement towards criminal activity.

Rebenoks – a hidden lobby?

As it is known, Krieķis has worked with Olainfarm «affair settling» together with Pāvels Rebenoks, who is also Latvian Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro’s advisor. As for how it is possible for a lawyer with such a questionable reputation to work in the ministry, Pīlāgs said this is more about the responsibility of the political party that put such a person as the minister’s advisor.

«The economy minister is from KPV LV. This means it is this party’s political responsibility. On top of that, why did the economy minister, who is responsible for resolving economic issues in the country, decided to pick such a person as his advisor? If KPV LV attracts such people, people who represent different commercial interests, this makes people wonder how far we’ve made it with development,» said Pīlāgs.

He continues: «This is about hidden lobbying. Who lobbies this person? How did he get his hands on such posts? What are the criteria for the choice of this person? Were there even other people considered for this post? Why did only Rebenoks receive relevant posts?»

Bunka: «Formally he meets some criteria. He definitely has the education and experience of working in law. But in this case the question is about the general state of affairs.»

Bunka also stresses: «The fact Rebenoks is close to multiple economic groups and participates in the sharing of economic benefits in the country means it is clear we have to look if activities meet requirements of the law or not.»

Lawyers’ ethics – in conscience or regulations?

«Ethics for lawyers is taught in law school. They have unwritten principles, including honesty, fairness, non-disclosure of information and other criteria they have to meet,» Pīlāgs says, noting that the Lawyers Code of Ethics had lost power as far back as 1990. «This means the environment is messy and lawyers need regulation of the ethical part of their work, because prosecutors, attorneys, judges, and police officers have their respective code of ethics.»

Bunka says lawyers do not face criminal, disciplinary and administrative liability for unethical behaviour. There is also no specific unit that would review disciplinary or ethical matters related to lawyers.

It should be mentioned that in the publicly accessible «Olainfarm talks» Krieķis said that he has never become a lawyer, because it is not possible to submit any complaints about him as a lawyer. «On one hand, if this was his goal – to not become a lawyer to avoid such responsibility, then he acted ethically and has said the truth,» said Bunka.

As for Krieķis’ statement on having no ethics, Pīlāgs said: «He basically discredits all honest lawyers.»

«In the law sector, people working in this profession should distance themselves from lawyers who publicly announce they follow no code of ethic,» both experts say.

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