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Monday 19.03.2018 | Name days: Jāzeps

A genuine investment project? A boondoggle? A scheme? Lithuania: a national security threat first

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RULinas Jegelevičius for the BNN

Have the Šiauliai municipality‘s councilmen got duped? Is nearly a 360-million euro high-tech high-speed air-rail project, which Anatolij Junicki, a Russian businessman was going to complete in the debt-ridden municipality, a great idea of the realm of fantasy which Lithuania just cannot grasp ? A boondoggle? A commercial scheme? A Trojan horse by Russian secret service? For Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, it has evidently been the latter-and therefore a clear threat to national security that needed to be urgently addressed.

Russian set eyes on investment near NATO base

The head-of-state has scrambled to swiftly initiate a set of legislative amendments toughening the investment procedures into the country’s strategic sectors and strategic spots, as that one in the proximity of the NATO Air Base in Zokniai, where the Russian citizen was mulling his high-tech project.

A Web search turns up quite some sites- nearly all of them are run by Russians though- on Junicki and his fad about alternatives to the conventional transportation systems.

Dubbed as Anatoly Unitsky’s String Transport System, the concept, according to a Web source, is based on the use of above ground electrical wires. But instead of carrying power, these high-tension wires become the support for carriages.

Yet a couple months ago, when the Siauliai municipality signed investment agreement with Junicki, the multimillion dollar deal was touted for its far-reaching impact on local business, creating jobs and making an otherwise tedious social issues-plagued city a place to be and to be heard of.

For the Lithuanian pursuit, Junicki registered in Lithuania «Rail Skyway Systems Ltd.» and committed in the deal pumping nearly 900 million litas, or roughly 360 million euro, into the undertaking. In return, the Šiauliai authorities leased him 30 hectares of land for 99 years at the Zokniai NATO Air Base and exempted him from land and land lease taxes.

Investor is not Forbes lister

But the fledgling project started falling apart yet before taking off the ground.

Junicki’s commercial schemes, according to several Lithuanian prominent analysts, like Swedbank economist Nerijus Mačiulis, are simply elaborate scams dazzling possible investors with supposedly lucrative profit from holding stake in an array of London-based, ostensibly large-scale asset companies.

«Euroasian Rail Skyway Systems Ldt.», «American Rail Skyway Systems Ltd.», « African Rail Skyway Systems Ltd. », «Australian&Oceanic Rail Skyway Systems Ltd » and, set purposely to Lithuania, «Rail Skyway Systems Ltd.» are a few to be mentioned.

All these companies’ declared capital reportedly stands at a whopping 235.1 billion British pounds, which would put Junicki, holding a 10-percent stake, on the Forbes’ 10 world richest men list.

But he just is not on it at all.

PM hints on unfavourable Special services’ conclusions

Put under the scrutiny, Siauliai mayor and city councilmen hushed up, but seems to be reluctant to depart with the hopes of «a sky rail line” and…the 1 million litas that «Rail Skyway Systems Ltd.» put into the municipality’s account as an investment security deposit.

«We don’t consider terminating the investment deal with the company yet…We’ve had investors who’d lease land and perform no activities…Cognizant of that, we asked investor an investment security deposit, 1 million litas, which we needed to join two land lots leased to investor and have the trees in them cut off. As the deposit was made, we were about to start the work,» Justinas Sartauskas, Siauliai mayor, told Lithuanian media.

But as Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevičius, pointing out to the conclusions from Lithuania’s special services, hinted that the Russian investor may not be desirable in Lithuania, the investment hopes were tapering off.

«I spoke to Sartauskas thereafter and asked him not to pass any further decisions in that regard. As I’ve just today received an official note from law enforcement, I believe the agreement will be terminated based on it, » the Lithuanian government head told past Wednesday.

He, however, refused to elaborate on the gist of the certificate and say whether the Junicki investment poses a risk to the Baltic country’s national security.

But the Lithuanian President, who swiftly prepared law amendments toughening prerequisites for to-be investors in strategic sectors and nearby strategic objects, doesn’t doubt that is exactly the case.

Prosecutor General’s attention drawn

Obviously irked by the development, Sartauskas, the mayor, pondered which of the two- the investor or the location at the NATO air base-is to blame.

«…What is wrong here? If the spot is wrong, then the city ought to look for a new place. We just don’t know much yet, as we’ve been just hearing from the Conservatives that the Lithuanian enterprise is full of spies…» the mayor said.

Meanwhile, the Lithuanian Bank’s Supervision Department announced it has completed its check on the Russian investor.

Having acknowledged there aren’t signs of a financial pyramid scheme in the proposed business, it, nevertheless, logged an application with Lithuania’s Prosecutor General’s Office on suspicion of illegitimate commercial activity and fraud.

The questionable investor’s Lithuanian representatives reportedly disavowed any liaisons with him and «Rail Skyway Systems Ltd.» after the scandal broke out.

Opposition chastises mayor

Meanwhile, the Siauliai City Council opposition’s Conservatives are excoriating the first-fiddle in the Council playing Social democrats for letting it happen.

«Mayor Justinas Sartauskas and the interim municipality administration director Algimantas Beinoravičius signed agreement with «Rail Skyway Systems Ltd.» without having verified the origin of the venture’s capital and without permission for the 99-year land lease from the National Land Service and having not discussed the matter with the country’s Homeland security Ministry, as well as the NATO military base commanders and State Security Department heads…Amid the complicated geopolitical situation stemming from Russia’s was in Ukraine, the Social Democratic mayor’s ability to a lot land lots and accept 1 million litas as the deposit defying the political situation and the threat to Lithuania’s national security is in question,» Aurimas Nausėda, a Šiauliai City Councilman, told BNN.

He added, along with the others opposition councilmen, he will insist from now on that all the detailed documentation surrounding a major investment in national security-sensitive locations is provided.

Some of the city council members admitted though the entire matter has been «dim» to them.

«Look, had the investor been a scammer, he wouldn’t have made the deposit. Does it mean any Russian investor willing to invest in Lithuania is going to be suspected now of liaisons with the Russian secret services? And what if we kill really a cool high-tech project amid the security concerns?» questioned a councilman, who asked to be quoted anonymously.


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