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KNAB seeks prosecution of former acting head of Riga City Council’s department for spatial planning and mobility for offering bribe

The Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) has handed over to the prosecutor’s office a criminal case in which it obtained evidence that Janis Vaivods, former acting head of the Riga City Council’s department for spatial planning and mobility, allegedly offered a large bribe to an official of the Transport Ministry in exchange for a favorable decision, LETA learned.

Information obtained by KNAB during the pre-trial investigation shows that the company represented by the entrepreneur, which specializes in real estate transactions, acquired two out of 22 land plots in the territory of the Riga Airport, which at that time could not be entered in the Land Register because the Transport Ministry had not given up its intention to acquire these lands in state ownership, LETA was informed by KNAB.

The investigation revealed that on the entrepreneur’s initiative, the former acting director of the Riga City Council’s department for spatial planning and mobility allegedly offered a EUR 50,000 bribe to a state official of the Transport Ministry. The purpose of the bribe offer was to ensure that this public official would waive the ministry’s claims for the land plots in the airport area.

KNAB has requested the prosecution to initiate criminal proceedings against Vaivods and the businessmen for offering the bribe.

KNAB also urged the prosecutor’s office to continue the process of applying coercive measures against the company in whose interests the criminal offence was committed, which was initiated during the pre-trial investigation.

For committing such a criminal offence, the court may sentence the persons involved to up to eight years’ imprisonment, with or without confiscation of property and deprivation of the right to a certain occupation or the right to hold a certain office for up to five years.

The Latvian public television previously reported that last fall Vaivods allegedly offered a bribe to Janis Meirans, a former employee of the office of Riga Mayor Vilnis Kirsis (New Unity) and current adviser to Transport Minister Kaspars Briskens (Progressives).

As reported, at a press conference on March 27 Riga City Mayor Vilnis Kirsis (New Unity) said that the transfer of several land plots near Riga Airport for privatization in 2012 had not been conducted legally. This was the conclusion of the municipality’s assessment of the legitimacy of the privatization process. At the time of the decision, the lawmakers had not received complete information.

On March 6, the Riga City Council decided to annul the decision adopted on September 21, 2022 on the completion of the privatization of 22 land plots near the airport, thus restoring the ownership rights to these land plots.

LETA also reported, on April 14, 2022, undeveloped land plots near Riga Airport owned by the local government were sold at an auction. They were purchased for EUR 5.7 million by Cella Investment 3, a company linked to real estate developer Sirin Development. Both companies are part of the Lithuanian holding company ME Holding NT.

The total size of the land plots is 389,394 square meters. They are located approximately 400 meters from the airport’s fenced area and the city border with Marupe Municipality, between Mazas Gramzdas, Kalnciema, Miklenu, Karklu and Mukupurva Streets. The boundary of the plots is also located approximately 500 meters from Karlis Ulmanis Avenue, and approximately 600 meters from the road leading to the airport.

On April 14, 2022, the land plots near Riga Airport were sold by auction. Cella investment 3 Ltd, a company linked to the real estate developer Sirin Development, bought them for EUR 5.7 million. Both companies are part of the Lithuanian holding company ME Holding NT.

Lithuanian real estate developer Sirin Development will sue the Riga City Council to compensate for the losses caused by cancelling the auction of 22 land plots near the airport.

Source: BNS

(Reproduction of BNS information in mass media and other websites without written consent of BNS is prohibited.)

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