Riga mayor's office raided as probing into transport company case goes on: anti-graft agency

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RIGA, Jan. 31 (Xinhua) -- Law enforcement officers raided the office and home of Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs on Wednesday as part of a criminal probe into allegedly corruptive deals of Rigas Satiksme municipal transport company, the Latvian Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau said in a statement Thursday.

On Wednesday the anti-graft agency only aid that the searches at several locations had been part of an ongoing investigation but did not give any details about the case. Latvia's public television, however, said the searches at the Riga mayor's office and home were likely related to the Rigas Satiiksme case.

On Thursday, the corruption prevention bureau added more information to the statement on its website, confirming that the raids were connected to the criminal investigation launched in November 2018 into the municipal transport company's suspicious procurement deals.

The bureau is investigating a deal allegedly concluded between Rigas Satiksme managers, Riga city council's officials and Polish and Czech companies supplying passenger vehicles to the Riga transport company. The deal allegedly involved bribery and laundering of illegal proceeds with the help of third persons. Six suspects in Latvia and two in Poland have been detained in connection with the probe.

Latvia's TV3 commercial television reported earlier that for each trolleybus, bus and tramcar supplied to Riga, 5 to 7 percent of the price were paid in bribes. The total value of the three purchases featuring in the case exceeds 270 million euros, which means that 13 to 20 million euros might have been paid in bribes.

After operatives of the Corruption Prevention Bureau had searched his office and home on Wednesday, Usakovs told reports his conscience was clear and he would not resign as mayor of Riga.

Meanwhile, the opposition in the city council quickly collected the necessary number of signatures to call an extraordinary council meeting at which they intend to propose a no confidence vote on Usakovs. (1 euro = 1.14 U.S. dollars) Enditem

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