Latvian opposition party member investigated over possible bribery

Saeima deputy, Union of Greens and Farmers faction member Viktors Valainis is investigated as part of a criminal procedure headed by Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) over the possible corruption in the re-election of Dobele municipal council chairman, according to information from LETA.
On Tuesday, 12 October, KNAB detailed in a press-release that the bureau responded to a report from some person and commenced a criminal case over possible bribery. The criminal procedure was commenced to check if the replacement of Dobele municipal council’s head contained any signs of bribery.
On 6 October KNAB performed investigative activities to check information regarding possible bribery.
KNAB reminds that corruption may take many forms, including the form of a purchase of a decisive vote in exchange for monetary benefits or a specific position in an institution. Examples of this can be seen in the so-called Jurmalagate case – when the Supreme Court of Justice ruled that an offer of an attractive post can be considered a bribe.
The court found that in the specific case there was a purchase of a decisive vote rather than normal coalition formation procedure.
Two persons are persons investigated in a criminal procedure. BNN had previously reported that one of them is Saeima deputy Ralfs Nemiro. Last week, however, LTV reported that the other person is a member of ZZS faction. Now LETA reports that this person is Viktors Valainis.
When asked if he is involved in a criminal procedure, Valainis told LTV last week he is unable to say because he signed a non-disclosure agreement with KNAB.
When asked if he committed any acts of corruption, the politician said no. Instead Valainis said political intrigues are to blame.
The portal allows the criminal procedure may have been commenced over «everyday political market» – politicians agreeing on candidates for posts. KNAB, the portal allows, may consider such acts as bribery.
The situation may be related to the political power switch in Dobele municipality, with Dobele municipal council deputy Māris Feldmanis (KPV LV) being promised the position of the council chairman in some conversation with Union of Greens and Farmers representatives Uldis Augulis, Viktors Valainis, as well as Nemiro and Feldmanis.
The politician stresses that political agreements are a normal part of politics in Latvia, adding that PM Krišjānis Kariņš and President Egils Levits were elected this way. Nemiro doubts this situation meets the definition of bribery or a crime.
When asked about the aforementioned conversation in the Saeima, the politician said political meetings take place «all the time».