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Usakovs should take responsibility for Rigas Satiksme scandal - interior minister

RIGA - The recent developments related to Rigas Satiksme municipal transport company’s allegedly corruptive procurement deals are not coincidental and Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs (Harmony) should take responsibility for them, Interior Minister Sandis Girgens (KPV LV) said in an interview with LNT TV channel this morning.

The minister said that Rigas Satiksme has been subsidized with municipal budget funds for years and it has never been clear how this money has been spent, the minister said. He also thinks that there is still a lot investigate in connection with the Rigas Satiksme procurement deals.

Asked if Usakovs should resign as Riga mayor in the wake of these revelations about Rigas Satiksme, the minister was evasive and said that in Latvia as a law-governed state only court can find someone guilty but that from the ethical standpoint Usakovs should take responsibility and resign.

“Sadly, we in Latvia are not as good at complying with ethical standards as we should be,” the minister admitted.

The Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) confirmed in a statement on its website that the criminal probe was started in November 2018 in connection with Rigas Satiksme’s procurement deals and that this Wednesday searches at several locations were conducted as part of that investigation.

Usakovs confirmed to members of the press at his residence after the search that KNAB officers had conducted a search of his offices and residents.

However, Usakovs refrained from commenting in more detail, as he has signed a non-disclosure agreement.

However, he added that he has not been charged nor has been deemed a suspect in this case. He said that he has also not been called into for questioning.

As reported, the Corruption Prevention Bureau has started a criminal case on three procurement tenders organized by Rigas Satiksme: 2016 tender to buy low-floor trams for a total of EUR 62,597,477, 2013 tender to buy trolley-buses for a total of EUR 131,646,135, and one more 2013 tender to buy buses worth EUR 75,808,297. The criminal procedure investigates bribery and money laundering in relation to these procurement tenders.

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