Latvia claims cash back after Expo pullout

800,000 claimed amid accusations.

The government of Latvia, which decided in January to withdraw from Milan’s Expo 2015 in order to save over €3 million, is now demanding the return of €800,000 already spent, said the country’s minister of the economy this week.

Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola revealed the cash-back claim in an interview with local media in Riga, saying the sum was to cover preparations made before the decision to withdraw. She is claiming the money from Expo 2015 Spa, organisers of the event.

She also stated that analysis of the cash flow carried out by her ministry had revealed that some tasks had been paid for several times over.

And the ministry also discovered that some of the prices had been inflated, she added. For example, developing the website had cost several thousand euros, while a study of residential opportunities in Milan had cost some €30,000, she said.

In response, Expo 2015 said in a press statement, "We see no justification for the ministry of economics claim for a refund made by the minister this morning." 

No request for a refund had been received, and in any case it would have no legal basis, the company insisted, suggesting it was simply the ministry's response to Expo 2015's own claim for €185,000 of unpaid bills.

At the time of the pullout, a Latvian government communiqué stated that “the ministry of the economy expresses sincere regrets at having taken this decision so close to the opening date of Expo 2015 and for any problems this choice might cause. In any case, Latvia guarantees to respect every undertaking coming out of the participation contract signed on 29 November 2012.”