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Wednesday 26.02.2020 | Name days: Mētra, Evelīna, Aurēlija

Ventspils opposition invites Pūce to act to prevent US sanctions from spreading to city council

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Aivars Lembergs, US, OFAC, sanctions, VARAM, Ventspils City Council, risks, opposition

Latvian Environment Protection and Regional Development Minister Juris Pūce

Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry (VARAM) and especially Juris Pūce have to act to resolve the current state of Ventsils City Council. It should be dismissed, as the municipal government does not have moral, ethical or legal foundation to continue managing and implementing the criminal management’s policy, according to Ventspils City Council opposition deputies.

Opposition deputies Ģirts Valdis Kristovskis, Aivis Landmanis, Ivars Landmanis and Dace Korna outline in the letter sent to Pūce: «In your 3 January invitation you ordered us to assess risks in the context of OFAC sanctions against Aivars Lembergs. A responsible person who cares about the municipality’s reputation would have stepped down once after being applied with OFAC sanctions. But this has not happened. Moreover: persons under sanctions have put together Ventspils municipality’s budget project for 2020, and we, minority deputies, were not involved in this process – our proposals for the budget were intentionally ignored and were not discussed.»

«We were notified of Ventspils City Council’s plans to discuss the 2020 budget on 14 January, which is only a couple of days prior to the approval of the budget, which is scheduled to take place 17 January 2020. This pattern has continued over several years, but we would like to point out that this practise has continued even after OFAC imposed sanctions against Aivars Lembergs,» opposition deputies stress.

Read also: Ventspils opposition: Lembergs continues using Ventspils City Council for his interests despite sanctions

It is not possible to ensure successful operation of the municipality under the current composition of the city council because for years the nine majority deputies of For Latvia and Ventspils political party and the municipality’s executive director A. Ābele and his subordinates have ignored the court-ruled prohibition for Aivars Lembergs to perform the duties of Ventspils City Council’s chairman. They have also contributed to having the municipality be managed by a person accused of committing serious crimes, a person subjected to US OFAC sanctions and is added to the Magnitsky’s global list of corrupt individuals, opposition deputies add.

They also stress that the aforementioned is unquestionable evidence that Aivars Lembergs subjected to US OFAC sanctions and his supporters are prepared to put personal interests above public interests and put Ventspils City Council, its institutions and residents at risk of sanctions.

Opposition deputies urge the government to prevent such risks from materializing.

Considering Pūce’s invitation to «assess all indirect risks possibly associated with OFAC sanctions against Aivars Lembergs», the opposition turns the minister’s attention towards the fact that on 20 December 2019 he received an application prepared by four Ventspils City Council detailing Aivars Lembergs’ illegally acquired public funds in Ventspils Development Agency.

Opposition deputies believe the report is comprehensive and shows from all sides not only the risks coming from the person under sanctions but also provides evidence of specific illegalities committed by Aivars Lembergs in the current composition of Ventspils City Council, which meets the context of US OFAC sanctions applied to this person.

The letter sent by minority deputies to Pūce also stresses: «The evidence outlined in our report is convincing – it is not possible to ignore it. Every day that passes without action from the state to call a specific state official – Aivars Lembergs – to answer for his actions only increases the risk of US OFAC sanctions extending to Ventspils City Council and municipal institutions.»

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