Riga vice mayor steps down amid corruption scandal

Source: Xinhua| 2018-12-17 23:52:34|Editor: yan
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RIGA, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) -- Riga Vice Mayor Andris Ameriks resigned on Monday amid an unfolding corruption scandal in the Latvian capital's municipal transport company.

Ameriks told reporters he was resigning in order to protect his own name and the reputation of his party Honor to Serve Riga (GKR). He denied any personal involvement in the corruption scandal at Rigas Satiksme transport company.

Latvian media reported earlier that eight arrests were made and over 30 searches conducted in Latvia and Poland this week as part of a sweeping probe launched by Latvian anti-corruption operatives into procurement deals organized by Rigas Satiksme.

The executive board of Rigas Satiksme resigned after the scandal broke and the company's former CEO Leons Bemhens was taken under arrest on Friday. On the same day, the opposition in the Riga city council unsuccessfully tried to unseat Riga Mayor Nils Usakovs, blaming him for yet another corruption scandal associated with the city's government.

Ameriks underlined at Monday's press briefing that he had nothing do with Rigas Satiksme' procurement deals and possible illegalities currently probed by the anti-corruption agency. Ameriks voiced confidence that the investigation would prove him innocent.

Ameriks' GKR party is expected to propose a new candidate for Riga vice mayor in a few days.

Meanwhile, the center-right opposition in the Riga city council has stepped up calls for Mayor Usakovs of the leftist Harmony party to resign. Opposition politicians claim that the city council's ruling coalition of Harmony and GKR has been running the city in a non-transparent manner, fostering massive corruption.