Anti-corruption Force Launches Series of Raids in Latvia

By German Press Agency
Law enforcement agencies in Latvia led by the national Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) carried out a series of raids on high-profile businesses and politicians Wednesday (May 25, 2011), local media reported.

Targets included a home belonging to Aivars Lembergs, the mayor of the port town of Ventspils and a leading political fixer in the Baltic state.

Lembergs is already involved in trials in both Latvia and Britain focusing on his methods of gaining and maintaining control of several companies.

Other raids were carried out at port offices in Ventspils and Riga as well as council offices in both cities.

They also involved a search for documents linked to former Prime Minister Andris Skele and former Transport Minister Ainars Slesers, who are both sitting members of parliament, according to press reports.

Lembergs, Skele and Slesers are popularly referred to as Latvia’s leading ‘oligarchs’ due to their large personal fortunes and control of political parties.

Riga deputy mayor Andris Ameriks, a member of Slesers’ political party, criticised the KNAB action as ‘absurd.’

Ameriks, currently deputising for hospitalised Riga mayor Nil Usakov, issued a statement saying the raids had disrupted the work of the council.

They were part of ‘pre-election intrigues’ ahead of a June 2 parliamentary vote on selecting a new Latvian president, Ameriks claimed.

A KNAB spokesman told the German Press Agency