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Wednesday 08.04.2020 | Name days: Dana, Dans, Danute, Edgars

RTAB head accuses Riga’s mayor of document forging; asks KNAB to investigate

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RTAB, KNAB, conflict, Guntars Grīnvalds, Jānis Jenzis, Ieva Lasmane

Guntars Grīnvalds

Riga Tourism Development Bureau (RTAB) board chairman Guntars Grīnvalds has asked Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) to investigate possible document forging in the institution.

He believes document-forging was committed in a group at RTAB and that other board members delegated by the municipality – RTAB board member Ieva Lasmane and Latvian Restaurants Association president and office board member Jānis Jenzis, as well as Riga’s Mayor Oļegs Burovs – were involved in it. He also said it is possible other founders may have been involved without them even knowing it.

Grīnvalds claims – although he has tried to introduce new good management in the institution, the years-long blowback of illegalities has been stronger, which resulted in him becoming «a manager inconvenient for schemes».

«When becoming chairman of RTAB board, it was important for me as a lawyer to prevent political mobbing and to introduce good management principles, as well as recover RTAB reputation and trust among residents. However, after several months already I had felt insistent hints, such as the hint in regards to accepting Vita Jermoloviča back to work, which is something I had objected to and consulted with KNAB about,» stressed the board chairman.

He mentioned that in spite of this move, one of his first acts was adopting new by-laws for hiring «in order to prevent any fictive employment».

«Unfortunately, a couple of months after adoption of new by-laws other board members tried to circumvent them and sort out affairs with retroactive dates and document forging by also involving Riga’s mayor and his office. I have reported this to KNAB,» said Grīnvalds.

According to him, this situation casts a shadow over the municipal foundation’s founding member’s desire to adopt a transparent and fair management model.

«Instead of board members creating an example for employees, documents were forged with retroactive date to approve Jenzis as the foundation’s strategic development director. He was paid a salary for this even though no contract was signed,» as mentioned in Grīnvalds’ statement.

«Likely Lasmane and Jenzis acted this way because they had failed to secure Grīnvalds’ support of hiring the president of the Restaurants Associations illegally and circumventing the foundation’s by-laws. It should be mentioned that minutes of meetings of the foundation were corrected and some of the founders may have been involved in illegalities without them even knowing,» claims RTAB manager.

Grīnvalds says he has a general feeling that formally Jermoloviča’s influence over the foundation has not reduced. He adds there have been attempts to «manage it remotely» to «possibly pave the way for a return in the future».

He outlined that Burovs and Jermoloviča are of the same political party – Honour to Serve Riga!. He also noted that Lasmane was approved as board member after KNAB’s inspections. In the past, however, she worked as Jermoloviča’s right hand. Jenzis, on the other hand, has worked under Jermoloviča for several years. Between 2005 and 2007 he was the director of Hotel de Rome, whereas Jermoloviča was the board chair person of LLC Reho company’s parent company.

Grīnvalds allowed in his statement that he may be subject to «political score-settling or even dismissal» for his actions.

Soon after Grīnvalds’ statement’s publication Riga City Council released an announcement that Jenzis was approved as the new board chairman of RTAB on Tuesday, 4 February.

Jenzis denied allegations regarding involvement in document forging. He also denied Jermaloviča having remote influence over RTAB.

He explained that when he was appointed as RTAB board member the minutes of the meeting were signed by all founders, including airBaltic, Restaurants Association, Hotels and Restaurants Association, as well as Latvian Tourism Agents and Operators Association. «With that, I see no document forging because all of the bureau’s members had taken part in the document’s signing,» he said.

Also Jenzis says Grīnvalds may have acted this way because the founders decided to dismiss him from his post as board chairman on Monday, 3 February.

«Likely turning to KNAB was an act of desperation. Still RTAB management needs professionals, not political forces. We need a restart, and so Grīnvalds was dismissed from his post on Monday,» he said, adding that Grīnvalds has been on sick leave for two weeks.

Jenzis also says he is surprised Grīnvalds has picked a «black PR» method instead of resolving the matter in a legal way.

Read also: Corruption watchdog sinks teeth deep into Riga Tourism Development Bureau

Jenzis and Lasmane both mention that on 2 December 2019 Grīnvalds signed an order in which it was stated that Jenzis would also perform the duties of the strategic development director. He also ordered the preparation of necessary documents. After the meeting the media were informed of the changes.

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