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Wednesday 29.01.2020 | Name days: Valērijs, Aivars
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Pūce still waiting for Ventspils City Council’s reaction to sanctions against Lembergs

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Aivars Lembergs, Juris Pūce, sanctions, OFAC, USA, Ventspils

Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce

Latvian Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry (VARAM) is still waiting for a response from Ventspils City Council’s deputies in relation to the invitation to prevent the influence of the suspended Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs, who is accused of committing serious crimes and is applied with international sanctions, over municipal administration’s work, said minister Juris Pūce in an interview to 900 seconds programme.

The minister stresses that until now Lembergs has been head of two committees and has also managed several committees, affecting their decisions in a direct manner.

On Tuesday, 14 January, the minister received word from the city’s executive director that Lembergs will no longer manage the City’s Development Committee. ‘So there is some response from their side,’ the minister concluded.

When asked to comment on the work of Riga City Council, Pūce stressed he still considers the city council dismissible, adding that the Saeima agreed as much in the first reading. He admits that signature collection over postponed amendments to the local government snap election regulations, the existing city council will work for approximately one month longer than previously planned.

As previously reported, at the beginning of January Pūce sent a letter to Ventspils City Council deputies and executive director, stressing that it is necessary to immediately assess all possible indirect risks that could potentially affect the municipal administration’s work after the application of sanctions against Aivars Lembergs by the US Department of the Treasury Office for Foreign Asset Control (OFAC).

Nine of 13 deputies elected to Ventspils City Council, including Lembergs, are members of For Latvia and Ventspils political party.

On 9 December 2019, based on the so-called Magnitsky Law, OFAC imposed sanctions against a number of persons and their organizations in Europe, Asia and Latin America, including Lembergs, for corruption.

Read also: Kristovskis believes US sanctions are result of KNAB’s and VARAM’s inaction

In response to Ventspils Freeport’s addition to the list of sanctions, Latvia’s Saeima amended laws to put both Riga Freeport and Ventspils Freeport under state management. On 17 December the government supported Transport Ministry’s proposal to create a new state company to manage Ventspils port’s territory and operations.

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

Sanctions were removed from Ventspils Freeport after Aivars Lembergs stepped down from the freeport’s board and Latvian government executed measures to put an end to his influence over the court, according to the press-statement from the US Department of the Treasury.


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