30 searches and 8 detainees in Rīgas satiksme criminal case
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.