The Corruption Prevention Bureau in cooperation with the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) on Tuesday conducted searches and interrogations in Valka and elsewhere in Latvia as part of investigation in a large-scale fraud scheme, the bureau confirmed to LETA.
On February 27, the EPPO opened a criminal case and handed it over to the Corruption Prevention Bureau as the competent authority to conduct pre-trial investigation into suspected abuse of office and large-scale fraud.
According to the Corruption Prevention Bureau, two current and one former Valka Region Council officials may have abused their office for personal benefit in order to, together with a private company’s representative, defraud the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) of at least EUR 744,000 and Latvian state budget of EUR 32,000 while a municipal project was being implemented. The project involved construction of a production facility and related infrastructure.
Investigators suspect that the infrastructure in question may have been built in the interests of a specific company in breach of the conditions for implementation of the project.
None of the four persons have been arrested.
Valka Region Council’s deputy chairman Viesturs Zarins (New Unity) confirmed to LETA that the Corruption Prevention Bureau had carried out searches at the municipality and a few other places today. He has the status of a witness in the case. Given that Zarins has signed a non-disclosure document, he is not authorized to provide further information.
LETA tried to contact former Valka Region Council chairman, Vents Armands Krauklis (Vidzemes Party), but his phone was off. According to Latvian Television, Krauklis has been detained in the case.
The Corruption Prevention Bureau is reportedly investigating a project for development of an industrial area in the Ergeme County. According to the municipality, the project was launched to promote establishment of new companies and/or expansion of the existing companies.
The total cost of the project is EUR 1.37 million, including ERDF funding of EUR 744 480, state budget subsidy of EUR 31,647 and co-financing by the Valka municipality of EUR 164,972.
A similar case was opened earlier this year on the initiative of the EPPO regarding a project in Valmiera industrial area that was co-financed by the European Union.
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