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Blog by Karl Altau

Statement on U.S. Sanctions Targeting Global corruption including Latvian oligarch

December 11, 2019

On December 9, 2019, the U.S. Department of Treasury announced a new group of Global Magnitsky sanctions targeting corruption, which includes Latvian oligarch Aivars Lembergs.

In the statement, the Treasury Department highlights that “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 statement also notes that “Latvian oligarch Aivars 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.”

Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control also designated four Latvia-based entities that are owned or controlled by Lembergs: 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).

The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) agrees wholeheartedly with the decision in the case of Aivars Lembergs. It shows that the law continues to work and knows no boundaries.

In its advocacy work over the past ten years, JBANC has highlighted the need for expanded Magnitsky sanctions, initially targeting human rights offenders in Russia tied to the 2009 death of Sergei Magnitsky, and has made this a focal point during past policy events it has organized in Washington, DC and New York in 2013, 2015, and 2018. These have featured leading proponents of the sanctions policy, notably with activist Bill Browder and others.

We also express our support for the December 9 decision by European Union foreign ministers to create a new EU-wide sanction regime which would be similar to the U.S. Magnitsky Act.

We express our hope that the United States will keep working closely with the Government of Latvia and other European Union countries to address corruption and hold corrupt oligarchs accountable for their actions.


JBANC represents the Estonian American National Council, Inc., the American Latvian Association, Inc., and the Lithuanian American Council, Inc.

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