Selin ATAY-TDO- The United States Treasury said in a statement that the United States sanctioned Aivars Lembergs, the suspended mayor of Latvia’s seaport city of Ventspils and an oligarch with substantial influence in the country’s politics, over alleged corruption.
According to the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), Aivars Lembergs controls “entities through political parties and corrupt politicians, and systematically exploits those entities and individuals for his own economic gain”.
“This the United States action underscores the United States commitment to Latvia and our determination to hold corrupt oligarchs accountable for their actions against a key European ally”, it said in the statement issued by the OFAC.
The U.S Treasury is also sanctioning four other bodies, which are Ventspils Freeport Authority, Ventspils Development Agency, Business Development Association and Latvian Transit Business Association. These sanctioned four bodies are either owned or controlled by Lembergs.
Reporters was unable to get an immediate comment from Aivars Lembergs on this issue.
The United States sanctions allow the government to seize any property or accounts he has in the United States and prohibits anyone in the United States from doing business with him.
Aivars Lembergs has been a mayor of Ventspils for more than 30 years. Lembergs was suspended by Latvian prosecutors and courts due to an ongoing investigation and charges of corruption and money laundering. However, he has denied any wrongdoing in that case.
Furthermore, the Latvian Foreign Ministry issued a warning Monday saying that any financial institution carrying out a transaction with Aivars Lembergs or the four entities risk being subjected to the U.S. sanctions too.