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Wednesday 19.02.2020 | Name days: Zane, Zuzanna

Transport Ministry’s representative appointed as Ventspils Freeport board’s chairperson

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Aivars Lembergs, OFAC, sanctions, Ventspils Freeport, USA, Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, Inguna Strautmane, Ventas ostaInguna Strautmane, a representative of Latvia’s Transport Ministry, has been appointed as Ventspils Freeport board chairperson. Finance Ministry’s representative Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis has been appointed as the freeport board’s vice-chairman, as confirmed by Ventspils Freeport authority public relations manager Inga Ieviņa.

Economy Ministry’s representative Rūdolfs Nerets and Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry’s representative Laila Spaliņa will serve as the remaining two board members.

On Tuesday, 17 December, Ventspils Freeport CEO Purmalis confirmed that by performing aforementioned changes it is possible to demonstrate that cooperation with Ventspils Freeport authority is not associated with the sanctions applied by US Department of Treasury Office for Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) against Aivars Lembergs and several private and legal persons.

«We are grateful to all cooperation partners for their patience, understanding and flexibility in this emergency situation. We will do everything we can to ensure the port is able to restore normal operations. We want to stress that business transactions with Ventspils Freeport until 8 January are not subjected to aforementioned risks,» stresses Purmalis, inviting stevedores and terminals to explain the situation to their partners.

The port’s CEO invites representatives of all terminals and stevedore companies active at Ventspils Freeport to come to a meeting on Thursday, 19 December, to discuss the situation and plans for the future.

In order to visibly separate port functions from its manager – Ventspils Freeport authority, which is under US sanctions, the government has decided to form a new state company to take over its duties and rights.

The objective of this new state company – Ventas Osta – will be managing Ventspils port territory and fully or partially taking over functions of Ventspils Freeport authority. The company will work to reduce the possible negative consequences from US sanctions on Latvia’s transit sector and economy. Amendments to the Law on Ventspils Freeport state that Ventas osta will perform the duties of the port manager and will be authorized to sign contracts with the port’s clients and perform all necessary operations in order to gradually take over all duties before the port’s clients.

It is expected that the transition period may last several months, when both Ventspils Freeport authority and the newly-founded state company will be operating in parallel to one another. Ventas osta will take over control of Ventspils Freeport authority’s property, rights and duties one by one. Employees will also gradually migrate to work for Ventas osta.

During the liquidation of Ventspils Freeport authority it will be decided on passing its owned assets to the new state company. Employees of Ventspils Freeport authority have no reason to worry about losing jobs – professionals are still needed, stresses Purmalis.

More on this topic: Coalition agrees to found AS Ventas osta to perform Ventspils Freeport’s functions

The new CEO of Ventspils Freeport stresses that for any port, especially in Ventspils, it is important to have cooperation with the local government. He expects nothing will change here in this regard. Also there is no reason to believe the changes could force the port’s management to lose interest in promotion in sports and cultural events, explains Purmalis. It is the port’s main goal to ensure recovery of the port’s operations – all efforts are put into this.

As it is known, on 13 December Ventspils Freeport board dismissed the port’s CEO Imants Sarmulis.

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.

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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