KNAB employees under the chairman of Ogre district council Helmanis arrived in August last year, investigating whether the mayor has not defrauded the municipality of less than 855 euros on the basis of a fake sick sheet. Helmanis himself immediately called it a misunderstanding.
At the time, the politician explained to the “de facto” program that he had been treated in the USA. The mayor also showed the US doctor’s business card and written signs on the phone. In one of them, it was stated in English that he was not allowed to fly for seven days for medical reasons. So Helman had to stay in the US in the meantime.
It follows from the KNAB ‘s decision to close the case this summer that
Helmanis did not specifically travel to the United States to see a doctor, but had planned a trip that had not been booked at the municipality.
It also follows from the KNAB’s decision that Helmann’s illness on the other side of the ocean largely coincided with his previously scheduled return.
The events developed as follows: in mid-January 2019, Helmanis asked his travel consultant to plan his trips to Australia, the Philippines and the United States, but the mayor rejected the proposed options. At the end of January, Helmanis had already asked to prepare a trip directly to Miami, USA. At the beginning of February, Helmanis and the consultant called, and the next day – Saturday – Helmanis was booked a round trip in ten days.
On Saturday, Helmanis flew away, and on Monday he went to one of Maima’s emergency care facilities with Dr. Zhanna Zicbanka. These doctors in Florida recommend the forums as Russian-speaking family doctors and paediatricians. An incapacity certificate has been drawn up at the Helman clinic. He informed the council and the family doctor about it, which opened a sick page in Latvia.
He learned about Helman’s departure to the USA in Ogre municipality at the last minute, if at all.
The chief of staff was not informed about it, Helman’s deputy could not remember whether the mayor had told him before that he would not work. Only Deputy Executive Director Dana Bārbale told KNAB that on Friday afternoon – the day before departure – Helmanis had given her an application to go on annual leave. However, she did not register it immediately, so no leave order was issued.
The KNAB document states that on Monday Bārbale had already received information that the chairman of the council was ill, therefore Helmanis’ application for leave was no longer relevant. Bārbale did not remember exactly what he did with the application, but if he was not mistaken, he threw it out.
Thus, the Deputy Executive Director of Helman actually destroyed the leave application without registering it.
The conclusions of the KNAB in this case raise several questions. One of them: if Helmanis really wanted to go on vacation instead of going to the United States for treatment, then why had he not informed the municipality in time? Helmanis KNAB refused to testify.
Helmanis did not want to talk to the “de facto” either, because the case is no longer relevant. Saulvedis Vārpiņš, the lawyer of the Mayor of Ogre, confirmed that he advised the client not to testify, because the KNAB employees have not been able to answer from the beginning which of the sick leaves, in their opinion, is forged.
“So, if the KNAB cannot explain what it is about, then our opinion was that it is better to use the right not to testify, because it seemed that it was simply found where there could be an error,” said Vārpiņš.
KNAB failed to verify that Helmanis was indeed sick in the United States and that the Miami clinic statement was genuine.
The KNAB asked the US Department of Justice for help, including questioning the care staff, but earlier this year the department replied that the request could not be complied with due to the large number of requests and the severity of the violation.
Consequently, the KNAB was unable to confirm the suspicions of Helmanis’ direct intention to defraud the municipality, of the abuse of office, or of forging documents.
KNAB was obliged to start the investigation. “Preliminary material indicated a possible criminal offense, which can only be verified using criminal procedural methods. Among these methods are also some opportunities provided by international cooperation, which KNAB is not entitled to use outside criminal proceedings, ”LTV explained in a written reply.
Only Helman’s family doctor was punished in connection with this case. The Health Inspectorate imposed a fine of 140 euros on Dr. Signe Kaktina
that, without seeing Helman, she opened and closed the sick note. The doctor admitted that he did not know the relevant regulations of the Cabinet of Ministers