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Corruption watchdog sinks teeth deep into Riga Tourism Development Bureau

Latvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) has detained Riga Tourism Development Bureau’s (RTDB) head Inguna Priedīte.

Priedīte is the second employee of RTDB to be detained by authorities. The other one is RTDB board member Vita Jermoloviča, who remains in State Police custody, according to unofficial information.

RTDB public relations representative Anna Blaua said Priedīte did not come to work these past two days. LETA news agency could not determine if Priedīte remains an employee of the bureau.

Still, it is unclear if KNAB is interested in another RTDB board member – Riga City Council deputy Maksims Tolstojs, who is currently away on a visit to Kazan, Russia.

The law dictates that authorities are allowed to detain a person for no longer than 48 hours. Once this term is up, authorities have to decide on maintaining security measures. The harshest one is arrest, which is decided by a court of justice. Jermoloviča left her office together with KNAB officers on Monday, 13 May.

It is unknown whether KNAB intends to request putting Jermoloviča and Priedīte under arrest. Riga City Vidzeme Suburb Court has yet to receive a request from KNAB on this matter.

RTDB board includes Guntars Grīnvalds, Jermoloviča and Tolstojs. Grīnvalds has not been presented with any status in KNAB’s criminal process.

On 13 May, KNAB officers arrived at RTDB and Riga City Council to perform searches as part of a criminal process against RTDB officials for wasting budget funds, document forging, using forged documents and fraud.

KNAB reports that after analysing available information the decision was made on 5 April to commence a criminal process against RTDB officials for wasting budget finances, forging documents and using said documents, as well as fraud.

KNAB cooperated with State Audit when acquiring information. At the same time, criminal procedures have commenced in Germany, Sweden and Spain.

State Audit concluded in its investigation that over the course of three years Riga City Council has wasted more than EUR 20 million of Riga residents’ taxes through associations and foundations. State Audit mainly focused on two foundations of the city council – RTDB and Riga.lv.

Auditors concluded the municipality provided associations with unnecessarily generous budget grants without good reasons. This money, according to auditors, was used in questionable donation schemes, confusing schemes with trademarks, as well as wages to possibly fictive employees.


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