Latvian oligarch Lembergs jailed after 12 years on trial

2021-02-22 16:05:30 GMT2021-02-23 00:05:30(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

RIGA, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- After a trial that dragged on for 12 years, the Riga Regional Court on Monday handed down a five-year jail sentence to Aivars Lembergs, the influential mayor of the northwestern Latvian port city of Ventspils and an alleged politically corrupt oligarch.

The judge ordered Lembergs to be arrested in the courtroom.

The charges brought against Lembergs included large-scale graft and extortion of bribes, laundering of more than 14 million euros (17 million U.S. dollars), as well as hiding his indirect ownership in the Latvian Shipping Company (Latvijas Kugnieciba).

In October 2019, the United States imposed sanctions on Lembergs as a "government official responsible for...corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery."

The U.S. Treasury alleged that Lembergs controlled "entities through political parties and corrupt politicians, and systematically exploited those entities and individuals for his own economic gain."

The prosecution had asked the judge to sentence Lembergs to eight years in jail.

Lembergs' son Anrijs and business associate Ansis Sormulis, who were tried along with Lembergs as co-defendants, were each given a jail sentence of two years for aiding and abetting the Ventspils mayor's illegal dealings.

Lembergs has never admitted any wrongdoing and claims political motives behind his conviction.

Lembergs and his co-defendants can still appeal the verdict handed down by the court. Enditem