Sa, 2.12.2023

Editorial: corruption crossing borders

Please note that the article is more than five years old and belongs to our archive. We do not update the content of the archives, so it may be necessary to consult newer sources.

The political storm is rather mighty in Latvia, s stirred up by former railway chief Uģis Magonis arrested as suspected in accepting a bribe Thursday night last week. 

Estonia isn’t untouched, BNS pointing to offices of railway businessman Oleg Ossinovski – a richest man in the land – searched last week.

A while ago, a subsidiary of Latvian Railways arranged a procurement to buy four locomotives won by a company owned by Oleg Ossinovski. While the investigation in Latvia is far from over, permit us to take a look on what’s been published.

On Monday, the Latvian anti-corruption agency KNAB said it had initiated criminal proceedings regarding state enterprise Latvijas Dzelzsceļš (Latvian Railways) CEO (Mr Magonis), the latter having accepted a large bribe. «The evidence accumulated in the criminal case point to the bribe accepted as related to procurement by Latvijas Dzelzsceļš’ subsidiary LDz ritošā sastāva serviss. The suspect is under arrest.»

This basically covers the official info released. Meanwhile, the details leaking into media are pretty amazing. The Latvian TV programme «Panorāma» described Mr Magonis returning by car from Estonia with close to €500,000 of cash found in his vehicle when arrested. BNS said the car attempted to escape developing speeds near 200 km/h.

In an interview to Estonian Public Broadcasting in Russian, Oleg Ossinovski said the procurement to supply four locomotives to Latvians was according to rules, a win to all parties concerned, with no extra payments involved. 

Time will tell where the investigations will lead. Meanwhile, dark clouds have already gathered over the head of a public figure in Estonia. The situation is no less sensitive by Oleg Ossinovski’s son Jevgeni Ossinovski sitting as chairman of Estonian governmental party SDE, the Soc Dems, and having just tabled a bunch of demands to alter the coalition treaty.

True, it is not befitting to automatically assume two grown-ups are alike, so what if father and son. 

However, Ossinovski the elder has supported SDE financially. Just a while ago, we were witnesses to a situation where a key minister stepped down due to a civilian court judgement related to her father’s business.

Therefore, the Magonis and origin-of-€0.5m case will doubtless fascinate all political observers of Estonia, near term. Will KNAB and its assistant the Estonian security police be blowing some more clouds towards Oleg Ossinovski? If so, SDE’s woe.