U.S. Department of the Treasury
December 9, 2019
Global Magnitsky and Venezuela designations target corruption on International Anti-Corruption Day
Washington – Corruption is a global problem. It undermines the abilities of governments to adequately care for their citizens; erodes the legal, moral, and ethical fabric of society; and facilitates transnational crime. Today, on International Anti-Corruption Day, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is targeting corrupt actors and their networks across numerous countries in Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Today’s action, pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13818, which builds upon and implements the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, and targets perpetrators of serious human rights abuse and corruption. Additionally, two corrupt Venezuelan officials were also designated today, pursuant to Venezuela E.O. 13692, as amended, in light of their senior leadership roles in the Maduro regime.
“Corruption deprives people of their countries’ resources, basic essential services, and economic opportunities, while it enriches a select few and facilitates environmental destruction, political instability, and conflict,” said Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin. “On International Anti-Corruption Day, we are targeting actors in Europe, Asia, and Latin America who continue through their illicit activities to undermine the foundations of stable, secure, and functioning societies.”
To raise public awareness for anti-corruption initiatives, International Anti-Corruption day has been observed annually on December 9 since the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) on October 31, 2003. Currently UNCAC has 186 State parties.
Corruption has undermined the Latvian economy for years, robbing the Latvian people of funds for public services, and empowering illicit actors to harm the security of the Latvian state and the NATO Alliance. The United States has worked closely with the Government of Latvia to address corruption there and elsewhere and are committed to our common cause. This U.S. action underscores the U.S. commitment to Latvia and our determination to hold corrupt oligarchs accountable for their actions against a key European ally.
Latvian oligarch Aivars Lembergs (Lembergs) is designated for being a foreign person who is a current or former government official responsible for or complicit in, or directly or indirectly engaged in, corruption, including the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources, or bribery.
Lembergs has served as the Mayor of Ventspils, Latvia, since 1988. From that time, he has been repeatedly accused of money laundering, bribery, and abuse of office. Lembergs control entities through political parties and corrupt politicians, and systematically exploits those entities and individuals for his own economic gain.Lembergs has used his influence over leadership of political parties to shape government personnel and place certain government officials in positions, as well as to obstruct other government officials from obtaining leadership positions. Additionally, Lembergs has leveraged and corrupted law enforcement officials to protect his interests and subvert politicians whom he otherwise was unable to control.
In addition to designating Lembergs, OFAC is designating four Latvia-based entities that are owned or controlled by him: Ventspils Freeport Authority, Ventspils Attistibas Agentura (also known as Ventspils Development Agency), Biznesa Attistibas Asociacija (also known as Business Development Association), and Latvijas Tranzita Biznesa Asociacija (also known as Latvian Transit Business Association).
In connection with these designations, OFAC simultaneously issued Global Magnitsky General License No. 1, which authorizes certain transactions and activities that are ordinarily incident and necessary to the wind down of transactions involving Ventspils Freeport Authority, Ventspils Attistibas Agentura, Biznesa Attistibas Asociacija, or Latvijas Tranzita Biznesa Asociacija, or any entity in which one or more of the designated entities owns, directly or indirectly, a 50 percent or greater interest, for a 30-day period.