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Retroactively dated «agreement», name crossed from shareholders list and influence in 90s around the corner – Lembergs’ court hearings continue

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUSleepiness, bored accused, discussions regarding how much of the enormous text of official charges is left, many lines of names of companies in which he had shares and Ventspils of the 90s, when Aivars Lembergs’ influence was felt around every corner – these topics were at the heart of the renewed court debates after judges returned from vacation to continue reviewing the criminal case launched against Aivars Lembergs, Anrijs Lembergs and Ansis Sormulis.

This court session was attended by judges Boriss Geimans, Irīna Jansone, Ligita Kuzmane and reserve judge Ārija Ždanova, as well as prosecutor Jānis Ilsteris, lawyers Jānis Rozenbergs, Oskars Rode and Irina Kauke, and the accused – Aivars Lembergs, Anrijs Lembergs and Ansis Sormulis.

Court sessions at Riga Regional Court take place four times a week: Monday to Thursday from 10:00 to 16:00. It has been nine and a half years since court hearings first began. Proceedings have since reached a point for court debates.

Crossed out name on list of shareholders and, possibly, illegally requested shares

At the first meeting after a long break, focus was put on Lembergs’ activities and influence in Ventspils in the 90s. Judges also went through testimonies of other people – to see how trustworthy they, whether they were influenced and how much can be concluded regarding criminal charges. Within almost six hours the text read by the prosecutor mentioned more than a dozen names of companies that are associated with the case. It is believed that Lembergs had used threats to receive shares from them. Shell companies were then founded to hide extorted finances.

Prosecutor Jānis Ilsteris read that, for example, Lichtenstein-based Ventk Limited representative in Ventspils Andrejs Damburgs mentioned in his testimony that in the 90s everyone had to listen to Lembergs’ opinion. «Philosophically speaking, Lembergs’ influence was felt in the entire city and port. He [Aivars Lembergs] followed and controlled activities of businesses working in the city from his post as chairman of Ventspils City Council. You could tell it just from what people said, from newspapers, as well as other businessmen I’ve communicated with.»

From this the prosecutor’s office concluded that «if a person has this kind of influence in the city, there are reasons to believe he [Lembergs] had requested shares from Ventk Limited». Charges also mention that Aivars Lembergs had issued threats to Ainārs Gulbis and had illegally acquired company shares from him.

The prosecutor also read from the debate text that to hide the fact that he [Aivars Lembergs] owns shares in companies like Ventk Ltd., MiltiNord AG and Ventamonjaks, his name was crossed from the list of shareholders during a meeting of Ventk Ltd. shareholders in 1994. There was also the signing of a forged document or «agreement» with a retroactive date between Vladimirs Krastiņš and Aivars Lembergs. This document hides Lembergs’ status as a shareholder in MultiNord AG, according to charges.

The deceased Juris Šķibelis was a witness in the criminal case regarding extortion of capital shares of SIA Lat Transnafta. According to the text from the prosecution, Aivars Lembergs had requested Ansis Sormulis to demand capital shares in SIA Lat Transnafta from Naftas parks-100 director Juris Šķibelis. «If hadn’t listened to Ansis Sormulis, I would have been become unemployed. I could no longer manage SIA Lat Transafta, I could not make any decisions. I was a doormat, someone who did as Lembergs and Sormulis ordered. I performed technical duties – signed document others brought to me,» Šķibelis mentioned in his testimony. When asked by the prosecutor if he agrees with this testimony, Sormulis said he does not, adding that he has never voiced threats on behalf of Lembergs.

Jadviga Paškeviča, who was one the head of Ventspils City Council Chancellery, mentioned in her testimony about different stamps that were used to approve «more or less legal documents». She also mentioned when and how those stamps were destroyed. During the interview, the prosecutor’s office had observed that witnesses who worked under Aivars Lembergs in the 90s, had been influenced by their former employer, which is why they had lied about the situation in the city council in relation to crimes committed in the 90s.

It should be added that on 2 August 1994 Ventspils City Council Chancellery did not exist as a separate office, but some documents detail dates long before this time.

Is the half of debate texts already read?

During the discussion between prosecutor Jānis Ilsteris and lawyers regarding the volume of debate text that had been read up to that point, the prosecutor mentioned: «Saying half would be too optimistic. I would say a third, at best.» «Well, we have ten minutes here and there, but we have lost a whole month. But if we keep this pace up, we might finish before New Year’s.»

To finish up before New Year’s, the prosecutor continues reading the text, which details that Anrijs Lembergs had founded Camden Stiftung fund with no real owner – that is to say nowhere is it possible to find the entry that the true beneficiary of this fund is Aivars Lembergs. The prosecutor also continues presenting information that this fund was used by Lembergs to hide his ownership of shares in Ventk Ltd. and MultiNord AG. The question is – if acquisition of shares was legal and management was fair, why hide them? Was it to conceal them from prying eyes? Charges mention that credit cards were made for the entire Lembergs family. Those cards were financed using funds from Camden Stiftung. After some time, all four VISA credit cards were destroyed. The family had spent USD 1.5 million together – using up all the money in the fund, the prosecutor’s office states.

After the last 15-minute reading, one of the lawyers asked the court to cut the session short at 14:45, because the lawyer had to travel to Jurmala to participate in another court session regarding waste management.

BNN had previously reported that different deals are a regular sight during court sessions dealing with Lembergs’ case. Sometimes sessions start at around 11:00 and end at around 15:30. A couple of times sessions ended abruptly at 13:00. From 17 January to 5 June, the court managed to ‘save’ 20 hours and 19 minutes by ending sessions abruptly like that.

Following one of the lawyer’s ‘example’, Aivars Lembergs also requested to cut the court hearing of the next day short – at around 11:00. The reason given is that he needs to visit his physiotherapist. Nevertheless, Judge Geimans made it clear that one request is enough, adding that tomorrow’s session will commence at 10:00 sharp.

Charges against Lembergs and two other accused also include bribery in large amounts, money laundering, forgeries, abuse of power and other crimes.

Materials of the case are compiled in 200 volumes. The prosecutor’s office submitted said materials to the court for commencement of proceedings in 2008.

A total of 71 court sessions were planned to take place this year from January to June this year. Only 32 have taken place so far. 39 of them have been cancelled for one reason or another, according to information provided by Riga Regional Court.


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