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Ventspils deputy: Lembergs is an accused in whose name the state amends entire laws

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Aivars Lembergs

«Previous governments had aligned legislative acts and laws for Aivars Lembergs, thereby ensuring the accused is able to take important posts in state administration,» believes Ventspils City Council deputy Aivis Landmanis.

«Decisions made in the recent past in Lembergs’ interest»

«In 2012 the Cabinet of Ministers approved regulations for Ventspils Freeport authority. The new regulation no longer included a point regarding the terms for the duration of which board members are allowed to stay in office. Previous regulation provided board members with five-year terms, allowing repeated election. There is no reason to deny such changes were lobbied by Lembergs’ emissaries in state institutions and transit industry associations led by Lembergs,» said Landmanis.

He also reminds that on 17 May 2018 the Saeima amended the Law on Elections of the Republic City Council and Municipality Council. «Part (1) Section 12 was excluded from the law. It stated that the first meeting of the Election Commission is organized by the chairman of their respectful city council or a person authorized by them. This means that while Lembergs was unable to legally organize the first meeting of Ventspils City Council’s election commission prior to amendments, after 17 May 2018 he was once again legally able to do it. All elections that took place in Ventspils since 2009 are questionable because of this reason, as they were all organized by Election Committees the first meetings of which were not in compliance with the law,» says the deputy.

Landmanis says Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry, law enforcement institutions, as well as courts of justice still cannot ensure compliance with security measures applied to Lembergs. «The security measure has not been complied with once for the past twelve years. Because of the inability of responsible institutions, Ventspils City Council has remained under illegitimate rule for those twelve years. It is managed by vice-chairmen only formally, with the chairman always present, which is against the security measures applied to him. Even in defining the term ‘absence‘ institutions play to Lembergs’ tune.»

«It turns out that Lembergs is able to be absent as chairman of the city council while being present and deputy of the city council.»

According to Landmanis: «Such a situation only promotes nihilism within society and distrust towards state power, because the people see no possibility of positive changes. What they see is state official Lembergs, accused of committing serious crimes, continues managing public property while also committing violations of ethics, professional norms, the Constitution, laws, legislative requirements and court-mandated decisions, which has long since reached measured size of criminal offenses. Under such conditions, distrust towards state power, courts, law enforcement institutions, including Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau, only increases.»

«The state has basically betrayed one of the most important state economic industries»

Transit is an industry controlled by Lembergs, and the current government is putting a lot of effort into restoring control over this industry, says Landmanis.

«Lembergs has been chairman of Ventspils Freeport authority since its foundation (1994). He has managed to subjugate the freeport into serving his interests. As it is known, Lembergs has had considerable influence over the development of the Law on Ports and other laws associated with transit. This is why it is no surprise that Ventspils Freeport has been under Lembergs’ rule for 25 years. Additionally, he had managed to block then the Economy Minister Krišjānis Kariņš’s proposed board member Ojārs Grinbergs’ approval to the port’s board.»

Landmanis also adds: ‘We can say that Lembergs has successfully captured control over Ventspils Freeport authority. The port continues spending more than EUR 1 million a year on promotional materials during basketball and football games in Ventspils.’

«This means they pay Basketball Club Ventspils and Football Club Ventspils, both of which are under Lembergs’ influence. Additionally, finances allegedly for marketing and worth several hundred thousand euros are diverted to Lembergs’ propaganda promoters – newspaper and internet portal Ventas Balss and other media, as well as Lembergs’ managed Latvian Transit Business Association and Ventspils Development Association.»

«Latvian Transit Business Association, founded by Lembergs in 1994, though which he continues steering Latvia’s transit industry in the ‘right’ direction continues playing an important role,» says the city council deputy.

According to Landmanis, Lembergs has managed to accomplish, with no small thanks to political corruption, that members of LTBA with him at the helm become representatives of the state sector, as well as in Riga International Airport, Latvian Railway, Liepaja Special Economic Area management, Ventspils Freeport authority, Riga Freeport authority and LDz Logistics.

«Remainder of this state sector’s representatives as part of the team composed by a person accused of committing serious crimes demonstrates the extent of Lembergs’ influence over these players. This means there are still Lembergs’ emissaries in public offices and decision-making institutions. The most interesting part of this story is that Lembergs’ opinion is taken seriously by state institutions. On top of that, the state continues paying for expenses of this association. This includes paying a generous wage to the head of LTBA – which is Lembergs.»

«Another association under Lembergs’ influence is Latvian Association of Ports, which was formed in 1999 by authorities of Riga and Ventspils freeports, as well as Liepaja Special Economic Area, in which Lembergs is a board member.»

This mechanism is also financed by the state sector. Its goal is serving interests of certain people, including Lembergs. It is worth mentioning that the importance of Lembergs & Co. was even lobbied into amendments to Section 10 of the Law on Ports in July 2000. It mentions that the state policy for development of ports and operations of all ports is to be coordinated by Latvian Port, Transit and Logistics Council, which is led by the council chairman – Latvia’s Prime Minister. Among members of the council is also a representative of Latvian Ports Association, comments Landmanis.

The Law on Ports unambiguously states that among members of Latvian Port, Transit and Logistics Council is also the chairman of Ventspils City Council, the deputy mentions.

«As far as I know, it is not without political bias that the requirement of this law has been violated for more than twelve years. As it is known, vice-chairman of Ventspils City Council sits in the place of the city council’s chairman and, by extension, Latvian Ports, Transit and Logistics Council. Even here the breach of the law is not prevented, demonstrating that the state administration continues serving the interests of Aivars Lembergs.»

An official, for whom special associations are founded to pay extra-large wage

«Even in this form of scheming Lembergs is in first place. To provide him with legal income, Business Development Association was formed. Money for this association is provided by once state-owned transit companies A/S Ventspils Nafta; A/S Ventspils naftas termināls; A/S Latvijas kuģniecība, and maybe even Ventspils Freeport authority. Since 2003, they have provided Lembergs with a total of Eur 2 173 556 in wages for duties performed as chairman of Ventspils City Council and Ventspils Freeport authority chairman,» says Landmanis.

«Things get even more interesting with Lembergs’ managed Ventspils Development Agency, because its members, aside from Lembergs and his married girlfriend, are also under Lembergs’ influence, Ventspils City Council, its owned capital associations Olympic Centre Ventspils and Kurzeme Philarmonic, Ventspils University College, as well as Ventspils Freeport authority. It would be too much to say at this point that since 2003 it is illegal to provide Lembergs with such enormous income worth EUR 1 004 231 using resources allocated for sports, education, culture, Ventspils municipality and transit industry,» says Ventspils City Council deputy.

According to Landmanis, all of the above is not a matter of inaction by institutions – those are examples of illegal activities deeply associated with politicians and officials of different levels.

«We need immediate action and quality investigation to put a stop to these schemes. If we want to truly combat corruption, we have to demand responsibility from all those who pretended to be deaf and blind and those who contributed to the longevity of these and similar schemes,» stresses Landmanis.

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