“A very good operative with bright future”. That is how he was once described. But there is enough critical information that he has not passed the test of temptation. Of course, every person deserves a second chance. Jurass now is an important politician, is heading the Saeima Legal Comission, quite possibly has started a new life,” – this is how Maris Kucinskis, former head of the National Security Comission, described former employee of Anti-Corruption Bureau (KNAB), now the current politician Juris Jurass.
In previous publications newspaper Diena offered a detailed overview about information in connection with J. Jurass’ “temptations” from the reports of former Security Police employee Arturs Smaukstelis, found in deputy Janis Adamsons’ “spy” criminal case files. However, the reports and opinions in them can be mainly attributed to the last couple of year, while Diena’s gathered information from other sources shows that J. Jurass has not “passed the test of temptations” already earlier. The first signs of “rot” can be found already in university years and during work in Security Police.
“The young man liked to gamble for money during Police Academy together with future KNAB employees Martins Lode and Janis Vilcins. However, it was only Juris who liked to cheat his own. During the later years, the young man was stopped in his red Opel Kadett (gifted by his father) by the police for driving under influence while the question about regaining his driver’s license was solved with the help of one cognac bottle and a fellow course mate from road police,” Diena got to know from a graduate from Latvian Police Academy.
This, however, cannot be verified anymore and by the words of attorney general Juris Stukans these acts were done in “boyhood” and no responsibility should be thrust upon anyone about it nowadays. However, since the beginning of Juris Jurass’ work life the information which the Security Police have at their disposal is not 100% positive. Even the current State Security Bureau denies any information about J. Jurass’ work in this institution and whether J. Adamsons was the one who recommended J. Jurass for work in this state security entity. But please look at this fragment from A. Smaukstelis’ files:
“On the evening (night) of March 23, 2021, the former Security Police employee Arturs Smaukstelis had a conversation with former Security Police employee Andris Kalnins who currently resides and works in the United Kingdom and is the owner of a small construction company called Port Boys Factory. The conversation was very long and during which A. Kalnins mentioned various moments from this time of service in Security Police and which could have operative significance. (..)
A. Kalnins mentioned that during the time when he was working in Security Police, he, Juris Jurass, Ruslans Nikiforovs and Eduards Paskevics worked as security guards in hotel Mara, next to Riga Airport, where Aeroflot pilots rested for the night. While working in the hotel J. Jurass established contacts with “all” Riga’s pimps and almost on every shift he delivered sex workers to Aeroflot pilots. Many knew about this, including Riga State Borderguard bureau. In addition, J. Jurass delivered alcohol to Aeroflot pilots.
A. Kalnins, who currently resides in Portsmouth, United Kingdom, did not reply to the questions sent to him via Facebook while other sources have testified to Diena that the practice to deliver to airport hotels alcohol and women as well as drugs existed back then and still exists today.
Juris Jurass got married to his partner Alla in 2004 and settled down in Dreilini. This is the first time when J. Jurass needs to get involved in a large-scale public deal. Public register data leaves an impression that the actions of the new family resemble “tax optimization” which was very common back in the day in real-estate business.
As the State Unified Electronic Land Registry shows the 0,1262 ha land plot in Dreilini, Berzu street was bought by Alla (who was a KNAB employee at the time) in two separate deals on November 1 and 3 from Zoja Pisarenko, born 1940, and Jurijs Bezinovs, born 1949. Altogether she paid 694 lats or around 1000 euro, which is less than one euro for one square meter of land.
Such purchase in two parts was an elaborate scamming scheme back in the days – purchasing property for an official but tiny price while the real price is hundred times larger and ignoring first purchase rights of the municipality who might want to use these rights. Needless to say, A. Jurasa’ s declaration already shows different sums: altogether in 2004 she closed four deals for 37 and 27 thousand dollars, 42 100 and 54 730 euro accordingly.
A. Jurasa’ s declaration also shows “expropriation of real-estate” for 42 100 euro and two of her properties were merged with land plots in Stopini accordingly. Both of which were registered as joint-property with J. Jurass. On one of these land plots (for which A. Jurasa officially paid 694 lats) the couple built a house (which remains under J. Jurass’ ownership in 2020 after their divorce, showing the true financier and executor of all deals).
The purchase of the second land plot (as shown by official land registry) was almost as successful for A. Jurasa as the first one – the neighboring 1290 square meter plot was bought “officially” for 722 lats or a little more than 1000 euro. Two and a half years later A. Jurasa manages to sell the property for officially different price although this fact remains “within the family”. The property was sold on June 3, 2007, to Anda Jurasa-Geige for 45 682 lats which is 63 times more than the officially declared purchase price.
A greater “temptation”
The obvious scam by the “justice warrior’s” family with artificially making the official declared property price low in 2004 is of no interest to the State Revenue Service and J. Jurass back in the days was not known to the general public. He gains notoriety four years later when his “temptations” started coming to light.
The national television news program Panorama opened its August 2008 show by stating that it is possible several KNAB employees in their state official declarations have not declared all their deals, more specifically, large loans. A few days later, after a meeting with State Revenue Service director Dzintars Janaks, the minister of internal affairs Mareks Seglins adds more fuel to the fire by stating “very serious information about deals valued in thousands, even millions”. It is possible that separate KNAB employees have closed deals which exceed their income.
Already a day after this meeting and despite KNAB being silent the name of the suspect employee comes to light. It turns out it is the head of the Operational Development Department J. Jurass. His deal was being investigated by State Revenue Service in connection with the discovered legalization of 6,5 million lats in the same spring of 2008 and the company “Vidzemes darijumu centrs”.
However, Diena publishes already more detailed information: “It is possible it could be J. Jurass’ property “Briedes krogs” in Valmiera region, Burtnieki district. According to Land Registry data this property belongs to J. Jurass but three years ago it was leased to Burtnieki horse stable. This company belongs to his family and other employees of the company. J. Jurass took this step because he is not allowed to perform economic activities himself and the main landlord of the property is his father.”
Both KNAB and J. Jurass deny the allegations – there is no crime, and it is not clear what is going on. He (as well as other KNAB officials and his partner Alla Jurasa) often meet with “detained unfair officials” with “especially personal attitude” but try to “work fairly and on principle”. For him “of course it is not acceptable that an official could, by using their position, achieve that people who are investigating him could be persecuted this way”.
However, it turns out that business partner of Jurass’ family “Vidzemes darijumu centrs” in State Revenue Service view is a real money laundering nest and that facts are a little different than the previous loud allegations by KNAB. There are uncovered loan contracts where on black and white it is stated that Juris Jurass also has borrowed impressive sums from a shady company.
This casts a dark shadow on the KANB employee (remembering the passionate denial) which is not made any brighter J. Jurass’ public revelations the next day: he got to know about the contracts made in his name only in the evening of the previous day. “I got to know about these contracts only yesterday and I am unpleasantly surprised and shocked that my name and surname is mentioned there,” Diena quotes the seemingly surprised J. Jurass about the actions of his father, a well-known horse breeder.
A few weeks later the KNAB employee responsible for solving many criminal schemes states that he does not know anything about operations of “Vidzemes darijumu centrs: “It is hard to say anything about “money laundering”. I really do not know what “Vidzemes darijumu centrs” is doing and even less so my father. What and how we have “laundered”, nobody has asked me anything. I have presented explanations at my workplace, and I am still unashamed to look my colleagues in the eyes”.
The great school of life
His excuses are, mildly put, not convincing and it is obvious that the criminal proceedings could end with charges. However, the further events prove talks about political involvement – the criminal proceedings in which the KNAB employee is a suspect for a moment is quietly closed and General Prosecutor’s Office refuses to publish the decision about closing the criminal proceedings, denying the media and the public to verify its reasonableness.
Even now after Diena officially requested the verdict and the materials from the criminal proceedings, the prosecutor’s office decides to publish only an anonymous verdict about ending the proceedings, but the materials of the criminal proceedings remain unavailable to public even now, 13 years after they were closed.
However, the anonymous verdict gives enough insight how J. Jurass managed to evade charges. Turns out that the prosecutor Aris Bocs did not have any questions about how J. Jurass’ father could not explain why he needed a universal power of attorney issued by his son (used in sealing loan contracts) and other “small things”, not to mention version that one is dealing with a rudimentary but well thought out income legalization or purchase scheme on the one end of which are unknown “well-wisher” but on the other – specific KNAB employees.
But the prosecutor, when deciding the further steps of the criminal proceedings, thought that a conclusion by KNAB about J. Jurass was important – there is no crime and it is clearly stated that J. Jurass is not guilty, it is only the wrong contracts which give the wrong impression about what has happened.
“After examining the contracts, the commission discovered that J. Jurass was mistakenly appointed as joint borrower because from the contracts it is visible that the loan was taken by a legal entity, but J. Jurass has been mentioned only as pledger and has not received any financial resources from the lender. Considering that the loan was de facto received by Burtnieku horse stable, in the person of his father Janis Jurass, it was concluded that J. Jurass is not a joint borrower but a pledger,” this was said in KNAB conclusion.
The fact that J. Jurass has been appointed as joint borrower in two contracts is not significant to KNAB. As absurd as it may seem, considering this KNAB conclusion about “one of their own”, his father’s and company employee joint testimonies, the prosecutor A. Bocs made his decision in which the KNAB employee in reality was a borrower from a shady company and had not declared anything in his official declaration because of “not knowing” these facts, and that there is no crime.
In turn, the fact that two years after these events “Vidzemes darijumu centrs” had stopped crediting private entities and closed 2010 with a turnover of 3607 lats (a strong contrast with the hundreds of thousands lent to Jurass’ business) was of no interest neither to KNAB, nor to the prosecutor. Neither does the fact that the new owner of Burtnieki horse stable control packet is Alla Jurasa who officially has nothing to do with KNAB anymore.
“This was the great school of life for Juris. It showed what an ambitious person with good connections and a backup in law enforcement could do in this country. Taking this into account, the information about obtaining half a million in royalties in PNB bank more than ten years later seems quite logical.” This “test of temptations” and its aftermath were commented by the Latvian Police Academy alumni mentioned in the previous article who quite closely follows the footsteps of the “justice warrior”.
Questions asked Juris Jurass in connection with this article and which he declined to answer:
1) How would you comment a public description addressed towards you by Maris Kucinskis, former head of National Security Commission – “A very good operative with a bright future but there is enough evidence that he did not pass the test of temptation”?
2) Have you ever been arrested while driving under the influence? If yes, what were the consequences?
3) Is there a reason why your former Security Police colleague Andris Kalnins would be interested in spreading lies about you? If yes, what is the reason?
4)Is it true that while you were working in Security Police you were also working as a security guard in hotel Mara? Is it true that during this time you established contacts with pimps, delivered sex workers and alcohol to pilots?
5) What was your role when your partner Alla Jurasa purchased property in Dreilini in 2004? Did you participate in these deals officially stating extremely low purchase prices? How do you explain that after the divorce the property in Dreilini remained in your possession?
6) Are you ready to publish your testimonies from 2008 and 2009 in connection with your participation in taking a loan from Vidzemes Darijumu Centrs?
7) How do you explain that already after two years after establishing a loan for your family business Vidzemes Darijumu Centrs basically stopped establishing loans for private faces?
8) Are you still holding on to your testimony that, not considering your professional line of work, you did not know anything about this company being involved in money laundering?
The article for the first time was published in newspaper Diena.