30 searches and 8 de­tainees in Rī­gas satiksme crim­i­nal case

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In Novem­ber 2018, Cor­rup­tion Pre­ven­tion and Com­bat­ing Bu­reau com­menced a crim­i­nal process in re­la­tion to pro­cure­ments per­formed by Riga mu­nic­i­pal­ity’s SIA Rī­gas satiksme. More than thirty searches were per­formed as part of the crim­i­nal process on Tues­day, 11 De­cem­ber.

The crim­i­nal process is cur­rently in the stage of ac­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion. Dur­ing this in­ves­ti­ga­tion process, CPCB co­op­er­ates with in­ter­na­tional part­ners, in­clud­ing Poland’s Cen­tral Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bu­reau. Six peo­ple have been de­tained in Latvia and two in Poland, BNN was told by CPCB.

The bu­reau in­ves­ti­gates a pos­si­ble crime to make sure those re­spon­si­ble are brought to jus­tice, CBCP re­ports.

More de­tailed in­for­ma­tion will be pro­vided as soon as pos­si­ble as long as it does not un­der­mine the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Latvi­jas Ra­dio and LTV re­port that CPCB de­tained RS In­fra­struc­ture Main­te­nance and De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment di­rec­tor Igors Volk­inšteins on Tues­day, 11 De­cem­ber.

RS press-rep­re­sen­ta­tive Vik­tors Zaķis told Latvi­jas Ra­dio that he is not in­formed of the rea­sons for Volk­inšteins’ de­tain­ment. Mean­while, in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­main tight-lipped, lsm.lv re­ports.

«A per­son has been de­tained. It is [Rīga satiksmes] In­fra­struc­ture Main­te­nance and De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment di­rec­tor Igors Volk­inšteins. CPCB in­formed us that one per­son has been de­tained. I don’t know for how long. We would gladly tell you ev­ery­thing, but we are in the black, too,» said Zaķis.

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from LTV, CPCB has de­tained six per­sons – one RS of­fi­cial and five pri­vate per­sons, in­clud­ing busi­ness­man Māris Martin­sons.

Volk­inšteins has worked in RS since 2003. He served as the com­pany’s board mem­ber un­til 2008. He also spent a year work­ing as the com­pany’s de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor. He has worked as the di­rec­tor of the com­pany’s In­fra­struc­ture Main­te­nance and De­vel­op­ment De­part­ment’s di­rec­tor for the last seven years.

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from CPCB, a crim­i­nal process was launched in Novem­ber in re­la­tion to pro­cure­ments or­ga­nized by RS. A to­tal of thirty searches have been per­formed and eight peo­ple have been de­tained – six in Latvia and two more in Poland. Poland’s Cen­tral Anti-Cor­rup­tion Bu­reau men­tions that Pol­ish and Lat­vian au­thor­i­ties have de­tained peo­ple who helped hide a bribe worth EUR 800,000. The state­ment men­tions that CPCB ar­rested peo­ple in Riga re­spon­si­ble for help­ing to hide a bribe worth EUR 800,000 re­lated to the sup­ply of nearly 200 buses and trol­ley­buses to Riga. Pro­cure­ments were or­ga­nized by RS in 2013-2016. As re­ported by Pol­ish CAB, the EUR 800,000 was to be paid in small in­stal­ments, hid­ing be­hind fic­tive con­sul­ta­tion ser­vices us­ing a num­ber of branches in Latvia, Cyprus, Hong Kong and China be­fore the money fi­nally ended up in Riga.

The state­ment also ex­plains that of­fi­cers in Poland have de­tained a board mem­ber of Poz­nań city pub­lic trans­port man­u­fac­tur­ing com­pany. Pol­ish au­thor­i­ties also de­tained one of the com­pany’s com­mer­cial di­rec­tors in War­saw. De­tainees were then de­liv­ered to Poz­nań Re­gional Pros­e­cu­tor’s Of­fice, where they were pre­sented with charges of cor­rup­tion and money laun­der­ing. Ac­cord­ing to ar­chive data from LETA, for years RS pro­cures trol­ley­buses and buses from Poland-based So­laris Bus & Coach.

SIA Velve, a com­pany as­so­ci­ated with Martin­sons, was in­volved in RS hy­dro­gen re­fu­elling sta­tion con­struc­tion project.

In Oc­to­ber 2016, the pro­cure­ment project or­ga­nized by RS to ac­quire hy­dro­gen-pow­ered ve­hi­cles was won by Pol­ish S.A. So­laris Bus&Coach. The to­tal con­tract price was EUR 21,499,670 (with­out VAT).

RS rep­re­sen­ta­tive Vik­tors Zaķis told LETA pro­cure­ment of trans­ports would be per­formed within a wider project’s range. EU project pro­vides for con­struc­tion of hy­dro­gen roads, which in­cludes build­ing hy­dro­gen fuel sta­tions in Riga, Jel­gavas Street, as well as procur­ing ten trol­ley­buses and ten buses pow­ered by hy­dro­gen.

Velve said in a con­ver­sa­tion with LETA that it would not com­ment the pos­si­bil­ity of CPCB hav­ing per­formed any in­ves­tiga­tive ac­tions in the com­pany’s of­fice. LETA could not con­tact Velve mar­ket­ing and com­mu­ni­ca­tion man­ager Ieva Šaripo.

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion from RS web­site, the mu­nic­i­pal com­pany had signed a con­tract with SIA Hy­dro­ge­nis and Martin­sons’ Velve in Oc­to­ber 2016 for the de­vel­op­ment and im­ple­men­ta­tion of the hy­dro­gen fuel sta­tion. The project’s costs were es­ti­mated at EUR 16.1 mil­lion, half of which came from the Euro­pean Union.

It was planned to com­mis­sion the hy­dro­gen fuel sta­tion and pro­duc­tion fac­tory at the end of 2017, but the project was never im­ple­mented.

Dur­ing an ex­tra­or­di­nary meet­ing of Riga City Coun­cil’s Trans­port Com­mit­tee in June, RS Le­gal Af­fairs Of­fice man­ager Didzis Stepe said hy­dro­gen fuel sta­tion’s con­struc­tion work has con­cluded. He said it cost EUR 4.5 mil­lion. How­ever, he said be­cause re­fu­elling and hy­dro­gen pro­duc­tion would take place there, tech­ni­cal co­or­di­na­tion pro­cesses still con­tinue.

Stepe said hy­dro­gen-pow­ered trol­ley­buses are ready to be com­mis­sioned and used. Nev­er­the­less, tests to check tech­no­log­i­cal com­pat­i­bil­ity still con­tinue.

Edijs Pālens/LETA

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