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Ceturtdiena 09.04.2020 | Name days: Valērija, Žubīte

Riga Freeport’s ex-security service head picked as CEO for Ventspils Freeport

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Aivars Lembergs, Ventspils Freeport, Ventas osta, corruption, sanctions, OFAC, Andris Purmalis, Tālis LinkaitsOn Tuesday, 17 December, Ventspils Freeport board decided to appoint Andris Purmalis as the new CEO of the freeport, as reported by Latvian Transport Minister Tālis Linkaits.

According to the minister, until now Purmalis was the head of Riga Freeport’s internal security service.

«We don’t have much time – there are 30 days to do everything to pull the port from the list of sanctions. This can be done only if the people under sanctions no longer have any influence over port operations,» stresses Linkaits.

As previously reported, Ventspils Freeport board decided to dismiss the port’s CEO Imants Sarmulis on Friday, 13 December.

Ventspils Freeport’s vice-chairmen Igors Udodovs and Māris Petrovskis.

BNN had previously reported that Latvia’s Prime Minister Krišjānis Kariņš has formed a work group under Linkaits to ensure uninterrupted operations at Ventspils Freeport. The work group is led by Linkaits and includes Rinkēvičs, Finance Minister Jānis Reirs, Justice Minister Jānis Bordāns, Economy Minister Ralfs Nemiro, Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce and Agriculture Minister Kaspars Gerhards.

The prime minister supported Transport Ministry’s proposal to found state company Ventas osta, which will ensure management of Ventspils Freeport’s territory and contracts. The company’s base capital will be EUR 35 000 and Transport Ministry will be its shareholder.

Amendment to the Law on Ventspils Freeport state that Ventas osta will perform functions of the port’s operator and will have the right to sign contracts with the port’s clients, as well as perform all necessary actions to gradually take over commitments before active port clients.

A transition period is planned, during which initially Ventspils Freeport authority and the newly-formed company will work will be working alongside one another. Ventspils Freeport’s property, rights and commitments and employees will gradually migrate to Ventas osta.

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. Aivars Lembergs is among those people.

Read also: Aivars Lembergs leaves Ventspils Freeport board

The Magnitsky Law was signed by then the US President Barack Obama on 14 December 2012. It allows US authorities to arrest assets owned by people accused of violating human rights and suspected of corruption, as well as deny them entry to USA.

«For years corruption has slowed Latvia’s economy, taking away money from public services intended for Latvia’s residents and allowing criminals to damage Latvia’s state and NATO alliance,» the statement mentions.

It is also stressed that USA has cooperated with Latvia’s government in efforts to prevent corruption.

OFAC has issued a Global Magnitsky General License Nr.1, which allows for limiting transactions performed by Ventspils Freeport Authority, Ventspils Development Agency, Business Development Association and Latvian Transit Business Association for 30 days.

In accordance with sanctions, all properties owned by Lembergs and aforementioned structures, shares in companies and directly and indirectly owned properties located in USA or are under control by US citizens are to be blocked and reported to OFAC.

This means all transactions to and from Ventspils Freeport authority, Ventspils Development Agency, Business Development Association and Latvian Transit Business Association will be blocked.

Meanwhile, Aivars Lembergs has also decided to step down as chairman of the board of Venspils Freeport board.

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