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First conviction in EPPO investigation in Latvia: procurement fraud of €100 000

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Three Latvian citizens have been convicted before Riga’s Vidzeme District Court for fraud committed in a procurement process for the construction of two high tunnel greenhouses, subsidised by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). It is the first conviction in Latvia since the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) started its operations.

Between December 2017 and November 2018, a group of persons arranged for a company they controlled to win a procurement project supported by the EAFRD, by pre-coordinating the price. Documents containing false information were submitted to Latvia’s Rural Support Service, based on which the service took the decision to disburse financing of €104 030. 

On 3 May 2022, a European Delegated Prosecutor sent the criminal case to court against the three for having acquired by deceit, in a group of persons according to a prior agreement, the project supported by the EAFRD, as well as for imposing a coercive measure on a legal entity.

The accused admitted their guilt and exercised their right to cooperation under criminal procedural law by selecting the simplest form of proceedings. That means that the European Delegated Prosecutor and the accused persons agreed on guilt and sentencing, and sought conviction and imposition of deprivation of liberty for 2.5 years and a fine of €2 500 for two of the accused, and a fine of €2 500 for the other accused. €5 000 was confiscated from the company’s bank account.   

The unlawfully obtained EU funds were fully repaid by the accused and the company. On 14 June 2022, the court confirmed it had reached agreement.

The prompt prosecution and conviction of the trio was possible thanks to the successful and close cooperation with the officials of the 1st Division of the 3rd Bureau of the Riga Regional Administration’s Criminal Police Department of the Latvian State Police [Valsts policijas Rīgas reģiona pārvaldes Kriminālpolicijas pārvaldes 3.biroja 1.nodaļa].

Furthermore, the EPPO provides that no person shall be considered guilty until the guilt of such a person in the committing of a criminal offence has been determined, in accordance with criminal procedural law.