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Tuesday 07.04.2020 | Name days: Helmuts, Zina, Zinaīda
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Minister: Ventspils City Council needs to reduce Lembergs’ influence over municipality

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Ventspils, Aivars Lembergs, OFAC, Juris PūceIt is the duty of Ventspils City Council as state officials to reduce the influence and control of Aivars Lembergs over the municipal administration’s work, mentions Latvia’s Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce in a letter sent to Ventspils City Council deputies and executive director.

In his letter, Pūce stressed the necessity to immediately assess all possible indirect risks from sanctions imposed against Aivars Lembers by the US Department of the Treasury Office for Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) on the municipality’s work.

«Sanctions could, most definitely, cause consequences for Ventspils City Council, whose ability to carry on economic activities and functions outlined in the Law on Local Governments could be limited, which is why deputies should make responsible decisions to make sure sanctions against Lembergs do not impact the municipality’s financial stability and ability to secure uninterrupted provision of services to residents,» Pūce mentioned in the letter.

«Any potential risks that could delay the functions of the municipal administration should be prevented,» says the minister.

OFAC sanctions in Latvia are complied with by finance and capital market participants, including banks. OFAC sanctions are also followed in public and partnership sector and EU fund and other foreign assistance field.

The letter mentions that Ventspils City Council deputies to clearly outline the areas that could potentially be considered under Lembergs’ influence, because companies under influence of people under sanctions will not be able to receive funding from public persons, which is why it is necessary to prevent possible risks that could limit accessibility of finances.

Pūce reminds that municipal deputies as state officials are responsible for ensuring functionality of the city council.

On Monday, 9 December, US Department of Treasury Office for Foreign Asset Control, based on the so-called Magnitsky law, established sanctions against a number of private persons and their organizations in Europe, Asia and Latin America, including Aivars Lembergs and four organizations with ties to him – Ventspils Freeport Authority, Ventspils Development Agency, Business Development Association and Latvian Transit Business Association.

Read also: LTV: ZZS is slow with cutting ties with Aivars Lembergs after US sanctions

In response to Ventspils Freeport authority’s addition to the list of sanctions, Saeima amended laws to have Ventspils Freeport and Riga Freeport taken over by the state. On Tuesday, 17 December, the government supported Transport Ministry’s proposal to found a new state company to take over management of Ventspils port territory and operations.

On 18 December 2019, OFAC announced removal of sanctions from Ventspils Freeport and Ventspils Freeport authority.

Sanctions were lifted from Ventspils Freeport after Lembergs stepped down from his positions in the board of the freeport and Latvian government took measures to exclude his influence over the port, according to the statement released by the US Department of the Treasury.


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