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Ceturtdiena 21.11.2019 | Name days: Andis, Zeltīte

Sports funding suspected of flowing through LOK president’s and executive committee member’s pockets

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

LOK president Aldons Vrubļevskis (L) and Aivars Lembergs (R)

For BNN by Elizabete Mežule and Simona Šjadīte

The shadow of suspicion regarding improper use of funding intended for athletes in Latvia is growing thicker and darker. The money allocated for Latvian sports is, possibly, not spent on development and support of athletes, but instead put in the pockets of Latvian Olympic Committee (LOK) president Aldons Vrubļevskis and LOK executive committee member Aivars Lembergs, according to documents available to BNN.

While the country’s sports industry suffers shortage of funding and warnings are voiced left and right about possible corruption risks, institutions responsible for the sector, it seems, have decided to pull blankets over their eyes to ignore the situation. Why did the chief of Economic Crimes Enforcement Unit once work in Lembergs’ controlled company and how did considerable finances end up in the hands of the alleged sports supporter Lembergs to help expand his resources? BNN offers a look at a number of «coincidences» that point towards a possible cover-up of corruption at LOK and Olympic Centre Ventspils (OC Ventspils).

Money intended for sports ends up in pockets of certain people

OC Ventspils is a capital association owned by LOK and Ventspils City Council. The company is managed by ex-chief of security of Ventspils nafta and Ventspils nafta terminals, deputy director of security firm Apsardzes dienests «Venta» Jurģis Liepājnieks. His remainder in the post of chairman of OC Ventspils depends on decisions of LOK executive committee member Lembergs and LOK president Vrubļevskis, according to information available to BNN.

On top of that, documents studied by BNN show that Jurģis Liepājnieks ensures OC Ventspils is a member in Lembergs’ managed association Ventspils Development Agency (VAA) and that Vrubļevskis has a contract with OC Ventspils.

BNN is aware that since 2014 OC Ventspils has provided LOK president Vrubļevskis with a wage as shareholder representative from LOK. His income is thereby improved with EUR 1 700 a month or EUR 20 400 a year before taxes.

It should be said that paying wage to the shareholder’s representative is the duty of the shareholder, in this case LOK. LOK can entrust this duty to its president within constraints of their existing wage or decide on providing additional remuneration for performance of additional funding from LOK budget.

OC Ventspils takes care of Lembergs’ welfare by providing membership fees to VAA worth EUR 50 000 a year. Lembergs is this organization’s president and is paid a wage worth EUR 100 000 a year.

The fact that OC Ventspils has to pay Vrubļevskis for performing functions as its shareholder, as well as pay generous membership fees to VAA, points to improper use of finances allocated for sports and possible corruption.

As it is known, the management of state finances allocated for sports is entrusted to LOK, which diverts an amount from this funding to OC Ventspils – like it is done by Lembergs’ managed Ventspils City Council.

Suspicions surface that part of this money might, possibly, be diverted to officials’ own pockets using their power and authority.

Certain «coincidences»

BNN acquired information that the Economic Crime Enforcement Unit of the State Police’s Main Criminal Police Department had been informed of possible crimes, including document forging, possible fictive employment and waste of public finances on multiple occasions in the past.

In spite of documents proving facts of the aforementioned crimes being committed having been passed to proper authorities, urging to take action, police have yet to demonstrate much interest in investigating the situation in more detail, according to information available to BNN.

BNN managed to find out that ENAP Chief Pēteris Bauska was once a security guard at Lembergs’ controlled LatRosTrans. It should be said that LatRosTrans is a Latvian-Russian joint stock company in which AS Ventspils nafta owns 66% of shares and Russian Transneftprotukt owns 34% of shares. Jurģis Liepājnieks, on the other hand, had previously worked as chief of AS Ventspils nafta and Ventspils nafta terminals security service (1995-2005), deputy director of security firm SIA Apsardzes dienests «Venta» (2005-2007) in the time when both companies were under Lembergs’ control.

Time will tell if Lembergs has any influence over Economic Crimes Prevention Unit. However, the aforementioned facts and the unit’s behaviour thus far are worth for politician to take notice in the context of the 2020 state budget development process.

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