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Friday 24.01.2020 | Name days: Krišs, Eglons, Ksenija

LTV: more than two million euros is lost in LTRK through fictive business trips

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUOver the course the three past years more than two million euros have been lost through Latvia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LTRK). Most of this money ended up in 16 different subsidiaries, according to public broadcaster LTV programme De Facto.

Journalists found out that some of the money was likely defrauded using inflated estimates and fictive trade missions.

Over several years approximately EUR 60 million of European and state finances allocated for improvement of competitiveness abroad. However, many used the money not for establishment of cooperation partners but for leisure. This way may have been used to defraud more than EUR 600 000, De Facto reports. Police investigate the situation.

Multiple missions under suspicion of being organized for leisure, not work, were organized by Liene Meldere’s owned Motio Biznesa Inkubators. Over three years the company earned EUR 700 000 for organization of trade missions, as reports De Facto.

However, there are suspicions that Motio Biznesa Inkubators is not the only company that has earned money in such a way, as reported by journalists. For example, Francity received approximately EUR 14 000 for the organization of a one-day visit to a free exhibition in Vilnius.

Gateway Baltic also got its hands on considerable amounts of money. Its owner is New Unity politician Inese Andersone.

LTRK is responsible for organizing trade missions, but it does not perform «manual labour». Instead LTRK receives commission fee and outsources organization of missions to third party companies, the programme reports. Then the company that organizes the missions using LTRK is eligible to receive a repayment of 80% of costs from Investment and Development Agency of Latvia (LIAA).

More on this topic: Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry suspected of defrauding EU money

Over three years LTRK has earned EUR 250 000 in commission fees. Had it organized missions on its own the amount would have been larger, De Facto reports, adding that more than EUR 1.3 million had gone through LTRK in 2017.

«Any business organization would be happy to receive such an amount to grow some muscles and hire well-paid specialists who are able to compile a quality programme. I believe members would be happy to see the chamber develop. What is the logic of entrusting everything to some small company that has only a couple of employees and let them earn a million?» LIAA director Andris Ozols rhetorically comments in a conversation with De Facto.

LTRK board chairman Jānis Endziņš makes an excuse of having a limited number of employees with a shortage of competence.

De Facto notes – LTRK did not select the hired subsidiaries. They mostly requested the largest amounts of money available to EU projects. LTRK denies this causing any suspicions for them.

To limit the possible misappropriation of funds, LIAA had invited Latvia’s Economy Ministry to reduce financial support two and a half years ago. Changes came after a year and a half.

De Facto notes that Andersone’s political colleague Arvils Ašeradens was Latvia’s Economy Minister at the time. It was during his term that Andersone’s company had won in two of the ministry’s tenders. Both, however, denied that the owner’s affiliation with the party was the reason why her company had one.

In 2017 LIAA received 346 payment requests for participation in trade missions organized by LTRK. Since then state support has declined, and LIAA has not received a single request from businesses to pay back trade mission expenses.

Keywords: fraud LIAA LTRK topical

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