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Ceturtdiena 23.01.2020 | Name days: Strauta, Grieta

While Kļaviņš penalized for fraud with compensations, Lembergs uses expensive cars for state funds

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Aivars Lembergs, Askolds Kļaviņš, cars, KNAB, corruption, personal driver, misuse of funds, taxpayers money, importantTwo very similar cases in which state and municipal resources are used for private needs. However, Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) has two diametrically opposing judgements. While last year’s reported violation committed by Askolds Kļaviņš by misappropriating nearly EUR 10 000 of state budget funds was declared a crime, Aivars Lembergs’ use of expensive cars is not considered a crime in KNAB’s eyes.

Provision of transport services Aivars Lembergs has cost the state nearly half a million euros, which is classified as misappropriation of public funds for personal enrichment, BNN was told by Ventspils City Council opposition deputy Aivis Landmanis.

He also says expensive transport services using cars of considerable value continue being provided to Lembergs in spite of him being accused of committing serious crimes. «The inability of authorities paves the way for more violations we, the taxpayers, will have to pay for.»

It is well-known that two premium-class cars (Audi A8L W12 and Toyota Land Cruiser) have been used for Lembergs private transportation needs for years. On top of that, both of the aforementioned cars are still being used by Lembergs in a time when he is accused of serious crimes involving corruption and abuse of power.

According to Landmanis, both cars used for Lembergs’ personal needs were purchased using finances from Ventspils Freeport and were later (possibly using leasing) were exchanged for newer cars of the same model and colour. On top of premium-class cars, Lembergs is also provided with private drivers, which is in the jurisdiction of Ventspils Municipal Police.

«Together with transport services, Ventspils Municipal Police also provides Lembergs with personal driver services. This means even Lembergs’ drivers are sustained using public finances.»

Kļaviņš the sacrifice and untouchable Lembergs

«Considering the aforementioned, Lembergs’ committed violations seem similar to another case of dishonest use of state transports, for which the official who committed it was punished,» said the opposition deputy.

Landmanis reminds that in June 2018 Latvia was shocked with news of KNAB detaining then the member of the Union of Greens and Farmers Askolds Kļaviņš for committing fraud. It was reported that investigators had suspicions that Kļaviņš had committed fraud with compensations for fuel and, possibly, had provided fuel paid for by the Saeima to vehicles used by his store Gandrs. In September, Kļaviņš put down his mandate as Saeima deputy. Around October it was reported that he admitted his guilt and accepted the prosecutor’s views on the penalty – community service and repayment of nearly EUR 10 000 to the state budget.

«A year prior, in April 2017, the press reported news that KNAB found no violation of the law in the use of Ventspils Freeport’s cars for Lembergs’ personal needs. The context of the news was that in 2016 Ventspils Freeport had purchased Audi A8L W12 for approximately EUR 156 000. The only known passenger of this car is the legally limited freeport board member and suspended chairman of Ventspils City Council Aivars Lembergs, who is actively carried to and from Riga Regional Court and for other personal needs,» reminds Landmanis.

The State Audit mentioned in its audit of 2018 If Ventspils City Municipal Public order and Security is Provided Effectively, Economically and in Accordance with Requirements of Regulations the oddity, specifically that Ventspils City Council creates a misleading picture to society about expenditures, because there is an order on use of municipal police cars, including premium-class, with drivers for needs of the city council’s officials.

Such duties of police officers are not associated with provision of public order. Nevertheless, wages, fuel and other costs associated with transporting officials reach EUR 265 000 in 2015 and 2016. The costs were covered from the municipality’s budget even though they fall under the category of administrative costs.

Most of these costs are used to cover Lembergs’ personal needs. This means public funds are spent on a private person’s needs, the city council’s opposition deputy says.

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