News2019.12.11 16:00

US puts Latvian mayor under sanctions 2019.12.11 16:00

The United States has put the mayor of Ventspils, Aivars Lembergs, under sanctions on December 9, according to the Latvian public broadcaster LSM.

Lembergs has served as the mayor of Ventspils since 1988 and is an influential figure within the Greens and Farmers Alliance political group, and has been on trial for corruption for over a decade, LSM reported on December 9,

The American sanctions enacted under Magnitsky laws target corrupt individuals and perpetrators of serious human rights abuse, according to the US Department of the Treasury. Its statement names Lembergs as "an oligarch accused of money laundering, bribery, and abuse of office [...] and empowering illicit actors to harm the security of the Latvian state and the NATO Alliance".

"Lembergs controls entities through political parties and corrupt politicians, and systematically exploits those entities and individuals for his own economic gain,” declared the US Department of the Treasury.

US sanctions underscore America’s “commitment to Latvia and our determination to hold corrupt oligarchs accountable for their actions against a key European ally," the Treasury said in a statement.

The sanctions freeze the assets of Lambergs and associated businesses in the US, and blocks any further transactions. The country's Department of State has also barred Lambergs, his wife and children from travelling to the US.

Read more: Magnitsky a symbol of sanctions – and not just in Russia

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