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Ministry appoints two additional Latvian Railway Council members

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULatvian Transport Ministry, as shareholder in railway company Latvian Railway (LDz) appointed Andris Liepiņš and Reinis Ceplis to the company’s council on Friday, 7 June, as confirmed by the ministry.

A total of 44 applications for both council member posts were received.

Liepiņš graduated from Riga Technical University’s Riga Business School with Master’s degree in business management. He also graduated from Columbia University with Master’s degree in international relations and University of Latvia with Master’s degree in public management and Bachelor’s degree in economics.

His work experience includes Latvenergo, where we worked as deputy council chairman and member of audit committee and human resource committee. He also worked in Riga International Airport as board chairman and council chairman in AirBaltic Corporation. From 2001 to 2014 he was working as deputy state secretary in Latvia’s Economy Ministry.

Ceplis graduated from University of Latvia Economy Faculty with Bachelor’s degree in economics. In USA he received the degree of a certified financial analyst. Ceplis is the council chairman in audit company Baker Tilly Baltics, board member in family healthcare centre Stārķa Ligzda, as well as board chairman in Good Health and chief of healthcare product development in Respectful Consulting.

His work experience includes working in Finnish public AS Lassila & Tikanoja PLC’s Latvian subsidiary L&T (now knows as Clear R) as manager. He was also finance director in AS A.C.B., corporate finance specialist in investment bank Supreme, finance specialist in Trasta komerbanka and Listing department head of Riga Stock Exchange.

Until now the council included three people – Chairman Jānis Lange and members Aigars Laizāns and Andris Maldups.

As it is known, on 7 May Latvia’s Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits publicly voiced distrust to Bērziņš, Strakšas and Stūrmanis, and asked LDz Council to dismiss them from their posts.

The minister mentioned the main factor that prompted him to voice distrust is the possible distortion of competition, which creates risks for LDz and Latvia. The minister said he has seen information regarding possible corruption, adding that this information has been passed to Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB).

Additionally, Linkaits said several suspicious economic deals have been noticed, including marketing and promotion contracts worth millions, which implies the company’s board does not act as a strong and rational manager.

LDz board members, in response to the minister’s criticisms, that Linkaits’ statements regarding the company’s management are aimed at preparing LDz for privatization.

Chairman of Latvia’s Privatization Agency Vladimirs Loginovs was critical in his assessment of such statements. He said in his interview to BNN: «Latvian Railways board chairman Edvīns Bērziņš speculates a lot and uses rather incorrect statements using the word ‘privatization’. In his corporate conflict he is trying to avert attention away from the topic of relations between the company’s board and shareholders».

Loginovs stresses that the law makes it clear – Latvian Railway, as a state company, can neither be privatized nor alienated. «Both words are made very clear by the law. This is why Privatization Agency pays so much attention to Bērziņš’s statement – because it misleads society into thinking such measures are possible.»

Bērziņš and Strakšas, meanwhile, have asked State Police to commence criminal process against Linkaits for defamation.

Meanwhile State Railway Administration has sent to Transport Ministry and LDz Council a letter in which the institution requests authorities «to assess the behaviour of leading LDz officials – Edvīns Bērziņš and Aivars Strakšas – in submitting an application containing false information» and thereby «discrediting State Railway Administration», previously said the administration’s head Juris Iesalnieks.

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