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NP: after LDz Logistics manager’s arrest, minister meets with Lembergs

Uldis Augulis/flickr.com/Sseima.
The arrest of Verners Lūsis created serious concerns for Latvia’s Transport Ministry. On Wednesday, 17 January, Ventpsils City Council chairman Aivars Lembergs, Transport Minister Uldis Augulis and his advisor Artis Stucka gathered for a meeting.

This meeting took place on the next day after news was reported about the arrest of LDz Logistics manager Verners Lūsis in Lithuania, as reported by Nekā personīga programme.

Both Lembergs and Augulis denied speaking with Latvijas Dzelzceļš. Their excuses, however do not match. Lembergs said he came to the Saeima to meet with Augusts Brigmanis. When asked what he discussed with Lembergs, Augulis said after a long and awkward pause: «Book publishing».

The programme reports that Lūsis became a board member in Ventbunkers in 2005. He represented Lembergs’ interests there. The fact that he was an important figure for Lembergs is proven by an episode detailed in Lembergs’ criminal case.

Lūsis was mentioned by Lembergs in a conversation he had with his partner Ansis Sormulis and lawyer Gints Laiviņš Laivenieks in Copenhagen in 2005. This conversation was recorded by Danish special services on behalf of Latvia’s Constitution Protection Office. Audio materials and their transcripts were added to the case as proof of Lembergs’ involvement in Ventspils transit businesses.

Journalists mention that Lembergs called Lūsis during one of his conversations with Rudolf Meroni to find out the name of some specific company. Lūsis could not understand what Lembergs wanted from him, which prompted the Mayor of Ventspils to conclude that Lūsis lacked experience.

Lembergs also mentioned him during his conversation with Gints Laiviņš Laivenieks. His objective was to influence the situation in Ventbunkers, so that Lembergs would not have to settle the score too quickly.

«Lūsis worked in Ventspils at one point, I know him. But I have not had any dealings with him for a while. I did meet him in Riga […] there was a big discussion for railway workers. I met him there, we talked,» Lembergs described their relationship.

It should be mentioned, however, that in 2008, when Latvian Shipping Company was controlled by now a board member of For Latvia and Ventspils Imants Sarmulis, Lūsis was appointed to the board of LSC Shipmanagement.

Nekā personīga also mentions that Lūsis’ career in Transport Ministry commenced in 2010. When Uldis Augulis became minister for the first time, Lūsis was accepted in the board of Riga International Airport. When Augulis was made minister again in 2016, Lūsis became the manager of LDz Cargo’s subsidiary LDz Logistics.

At the same time, Augulis claims it was not his decision to hire Lūsis.

When asked why Lūsis was picked for the post, the minister said: «You should ask that to the management of LDz – they are the ones who pick candidates.»

Lūsis worked in fuel trade

Journalists add that between Augulis’ two terms, Lūsis worked in private business – he sold fuel. His firm – TF Europa – had enormous capital fluctuations.

Verners Lūsis performed his business activities on a massive scale. His firm was located in Bowlero centre. Turnover reached EUR 20 million in the first year (2014). One year later, however, turnover dropped to EUR 800,000. The firm later relocated to Ventspils and was liquidated not long after.

According to information from Nekā personīga, Polish authorities suspect Verners Lūsis of tax fraud. Lithuanian authorities in Panevėžys see him as a witness in a criminal process launched against a group of people. In both cases he was interviewed by officers from Finance Police.

It is worth mentioning that Lithuanian authorities caught Lūsis because there was an international warrant issued for his arrest. Latvian authorities, who had every opportunity to arrest him, are also aware of this international arrest warrant.


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