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Friday 18.01.2019 | Name days: Antis, Antons

Skanste tram line construction procurement could be announced this spring if auditors approve

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUSIA Rīgas satiksme is currently in the process of evaluating the Skanste tram line project. If the audit company does not notice anything suspicious about it, the project will continue as planned, and construction procurement will be organized in spring, says the company’s representative Viktors Zaķis.

As it is known, in December Rīgas satiksme and the Central Finance and Contracting Agency decided to put the Skanste tram line project on hold to check it and make sure there are no risks of corruption.  The company’s temporary board chairman Anrijs Matīss said at the time the audit may last a couple of weeks.

SR representative Zaķis explained that the project’s part regarding the procurement of 12 trams is on hold. «Only two applicants have applied for this procurement – Škoda and SIA Stadler. However, this procurement was never finished. We have ceased this procurement because of the possible corruption scandal that surfaced last December. We plan to announce it again. The construction of the tram line itself is not in danger,» he explained. In total, the company planned to allocate no more than EUR 42 million for the procurement of trams.

Zaķis reminded that the Skanste tram line’s construction is evaluated not only by Ernst & Young Baltic, but also the Central Finance and Contracting Agency. «We have reviewed this project in the light of recent events to see if there are signs of any corruptive activities there. Auditors will submit their reports within a month. If everything is fine, we will announce construction procurement in spring,» said Zaķis, adding that Delna has been following this project since the very beginning.

He also explained that CFLA’s decision to halt EU financing for this project does not mean it is over. This only means CFLA has halted the necessary payments. However, Zaķis says the company is not in need of any new finances, because only design procurement has been signed so far, whereas the construction procurement has yet to be announced. «This is an intermediate period during which we can still assess everything,» said Zaķis.

As it is known, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau has commenced a criminal process in relation to three procurements organized by Rīgas satiksme. Officials are accused of bribery and money laundering.

One of the procurements is RS 2016 low floor tram procurement (EUR 62,597,477). According to information from LETA, and agreement was signed between Rīgas satiksme and Czech Škoda Transportation for the supply of 20 low-floor trams.

The second procurement was the 2013 RS procurement for trolleybuses for EUR 131,646,135. Škoda Electric won this one, offering to supply 125 trolleybuses.

The third procurement is the 2013 RS procurement of buses worth a total EUR 75,808,297. Polish Solaris Bus&Coach won this one, offering to supply 175 new buses by 2019.

According to what KNAB has said, the criminal process was initiated in relation to Czech and Polish company representatives performing illegal activities together with RS officials and an official of a company associated with RS. These individuals had performed money laundering and provided a financial flow, using actual and fictive businesses, thereby ensuring bribes for officials in Riga City Council and Rīgas satiksme for favourable outcomes in aforementioned procurements. In response to KNAB’s investigation, all five RS board members submitted resignations to Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs. The mayor has appointed a three-person temporary board. These include Anrijs Matīss, Edmunds Zivtiņš and Jānis Geduševs.

Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court ruled in favour of keeping six out of seven suspects under arrest. Businessman and long-term member of Honour to Serve Riga political party member Aleksandrs Krjačeks was released from custody after eight days of detainment. Arrest remains in force for RS CEO Leons Bemhens, RS Infrastructure Maintenance and Development Department director Igors Volkinšteins, Škoda Transportation official Vladislavs Kozaks, businessmen Māris Martinsons and Edgars Teterovskis.

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