In Latvia the Prime Minister has stepped into the shoes of Allar Jõks and he wants to cut down the size of political representatives in the State Company Boards. Last month the news broke out about the Latvian homologue of the Estonian ECC repeating the same ´´mistakes of financial scam´´, and apparently Latvian problems have the same roots. The non-profit Latvian Culture Fund (LKF) acting head Mr Pēteris Bankovskis mismanages the fund for quite some time now. He took over the fund in 1997, and in 2008 the LKF under his supervision lost its status of non-profit organization for the second time already (actually the LKF web page still advertises that they are entitled to accept donations!). Journalists from the the TV3 "Nekā Personīga" weekly program found that donations to the fund have disappeared. It means that not only several cultural programmes have stalled, but also monies to the Latvian poet Imants Ziedonis have disappeared. In the meantime the LKF not only leases a brand new Audi, and rents an office in down-town Riga, but the acting head of the LKF Pēteris Bankovskis has appropriated the real-estate that formerly belonged to the LKF. Diena reports, that Mr Bankovskis acquired the rights over the 3412 sq.m. real estate in Jūrmala for Ls20 000, and now the real estate company sells the Mr Bankovskis property for Ls1,63 mlj!
Photo: Kristaps Putniņš
Pēteris Bankovskis: "I am not a financial genius, but this property is mine..."
The Head of Latvian Audit Office Mrs Ingūna Sudraba discovered gross violations in the LKF financial reports already in 2005. The Latvian State Audit Office did not have a legal right to ask the Prosecutor´s Office to start an official investigation due to the fact that the LKF is a non-profit organization, thought open violations of bookkeeping procedures and other financial regulations were discovered. One may simply leave financial problems of the LKF aside and just look into the LKF website to realize that this institution does not operate properly, because the latest update of their web page dates the May 23, 2007!
If the State Prosecutor's office would initiate investigation vis-a-vis Pēteris Bankovskis unilaterally, then it would be beneficial to tighten the state regulation also in the Latvian non-profit sector. Until the affair is not solved one may only witness that the non-profit cultural organizations may become rather uncultured without proper oversight. Here Latvia is stepping into Estonian shoes again, and just the circumstances are different. While the former Estonian head of the ECC was gambling addict the incumbent head of the LKF is a self - styled financier. His financial schemes cost Latvian culture dearly already, and one can only hope that the Latvian Prosecutor's office and the Corruption Prevention Bureau (KNAB) would act quickly and within confines of law right after the Latvian Independence day.