bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Ceturtdiena 21.06.2018 | Name days: Monvīds, Egita, Emīls
LithuaniaLithuania

Lithuania’s Labour Party founder Viktor Uspaskich exonerated for the most part

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 rating, 1 votes)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

Facing the prospects of jail, Viktor Uspaskich, a member of the European Parliament and founder of Lithuania’s Labour Party, which is now part of the ruling Coalition, can sigh off after the Lithuanian Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s prison sentence on charges of tax evasion and fraudulent bookkeeping.

The well-known Lithuanian politician, who ahead of the ruling, announced of leaving the party, will still have to pay a fine of 6,800 euro for failing to include more than 24 million litas (6.7million euros) in income and 23 million litas (6.66 million euros) in spending in its bookkeeping books during 2004-2006.

His former deputy chairman and later the party’s chairman Vytautas Gapšys was fined 3,600 euro and former party bookkeeper Marina Liutkevičienė was imposed fine of 5,700 euro.

Three years ago, Vilnius Regional Court found Uspaskich guilty of the charges and sentenced him to three years behind the bars. Meanwhile, M. Liutkevičienė was sentenced to one year in prison and Gapšys received a fine of 35,700 litas, or 10,270 euro.

Then, issuing the ruling, Judge Daiva Pranytė-Zalieckienė said Uspaskich played «the leading role» in the 2004-2006 financial crimes, but her colleagues from the Court of Appeals exonerated Uspaskich and his party members from the charges of fraud and held accountable for improper bookkeeping only.

The Labour Party saga dates back to 2006, when the country’s special financial investigators busted the Labour Party headquarters in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius.

After the lengthy, nerve-racking litigation Uspaskich seemingly comes off nearly unscathed, as the imposed fine of 6,800 euro for the multi-millionaire politician is a synch.

Over the years, his political career, has taken a downward path, however, with the eccentric politician announcing of the departure from the party in January.

Praising the ruling, the Labour Party founder told Lithuanian media he feels «exonerated» and praised the judges who did not fear to pass such ruling.

In his defence, most of the time, would come fellow MEP and chairman of the Party of Order and Justice, Rolandas Paksas, who would underline on multiple occasions that he, in the case, was not «convinced» by arguments of neither the prosecutors, nor the court.

«I see the political shade of the whole case. I think that it’s clearly a politicised case, and I cannot avoid the impression that some political powers are clearing their way by using judicial measures, law enforcement institutions,» Paksas repeated on multiple occasions.

Uspaskich has been member of the Lithuanian Parliament since 2000. He has served as Lithuania’s economy minister. He was elected to the Parliament term of 2012-2016 as a member of the Labour Party, but opt for the stint in the European Parliament as a MEP. Therefore, his seat in the Lithuanian Parliament was filled by another candidate on the party’s list.

Following the ruling, the opposition Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, Conservatives, known as TS-LKD in Lithuania, has announced of weighing a possibility of calling an extraordinary session of the Seimas (parliament) on February 17 to launch impeachment procedures against Labour Party MP Vytautas Gapšys.

The Conservatives also ponder a legislative initiative of stripping all parliamentarians found guilty on criminal charges of seats in Parliament.

Visibly upset by the Appeals Court ruling, which is seen as Uspaskich’s exoneration, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė told Lithuanian media that «it still pays to defraud, steal and avoid taxes in Lithuania.»

Meanwhile, most of Lithuanian analysts were unsure what to make of the ruling in terms of the prospects for the party.

Some speculated that the Labour Party and Order and Justice, two members of the current ruling coalition, are parties whose political fortunes are headed for decline.

For example, Tomas Janeliūnas, a political analyst, and Mykolas Katkus, a communications specialist, believe that the latter may start see its support ratings, currently at 8-9 percent, being gnawed away by the Labourists.

«The Labour Party tends to always show up better in an election than in most of the polls. This happens usually because of its aggressive political campaigning,» Katkus reasoned. He added: «It is just too early to start burying the Labour Party…It has not lost its appeal yet for its many traditional voters, as well as the capability of throwing out strong political campaigns. Namely they chip away some of the Social Democrats’ voters at the end.»

Janeliūnas, meanwhile, believes that with court’s favourable ruling, which stands a little possibility of being overturned by the country’s Supreme Court if the prosecutors decide to take it there, the labourists will target the traditional electorate of the Party of Order and Justice.

«What is characteristic to the parties’ electorates is their relative loyalty. So they easily can stray to the other side if the circumstances change,» believes Janeliūnas.

Virginijus Savukynas, also a political analyst, believes that the Labour Party will not even have to exert much to get the rival party’s supporters on its side if Order and Justice will be showing signs of weakening.

According to Janeliūnas, the whole situation may harm the Social Democrats, too.

«The SD electorate is not very disciplined, either. They might turn up in the election (new Seimas elections are scheduled for late October-L.J.) and may skip it. They also tend to side with any trending vivid politicians from the left,» he says.

Agreeing, Savukynas says that, with the support for Labour Party up, the supports for Social Democrats tends to edge down.

«The competition can especially become obvious at the end of the electoral cycle,» he says, adding that too much is still hinged on Uspaskich – whether he will he want to come back to the Lithuanian political stage, or not.

All the analysts concur unanimously that the Conservatives are the least vulnerable in the situation.

«Their electorate is distinctive – united by the traditional values, having a clear political identity and known for the anti-Soviet stance,» they asserted.

Ref: 020/111.111.111.3161


Leave a reply

Ukraine's anti-corruption court law insufficient to IMF commitments

The International Monetary Fund has commended the Ukrainian parliament for passing a law to establish an anti-corruption court and pointed to need to amend it to ensure the court can work effectively.

Opinion: they’re trying to shut us up; KPV LV is inconvenient for current government

«We are inconvenient for the current government, the established order, because for the first time a party is prepared to use facts in its rhetoric in the pre-election period. They are trying to shut us up,» said KPV LV prime minister candidate Aldis Gobzems at a press-conference after Artuss Kaimiņš was taken away by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau.

Hydro and wind power plants produced 70.5% more electricity last year

In 2017 gross energy consumption in Latvia comprised 194.9 petajoules, which is 5.5 % more than in 2016. Over the past five years, the gross energy consumption has not changed significantly. However the share of renewable energy has increased by 2.55 percentage points.

Milder penalties for the accused in digital TV case; idea’s authors get no prison sentence

Riga Regional Court has released a shortened ruling in the so-called digital television criminal case. With it, the court acquitted previously convicted former director of Latvia’s National Theatre Ojārs Rubenis. Nevertheless, some of the accused have been sentenced to fines and actual prison time.

Estonian traitor Simm ruled to serve full 12.5 years in prison

A court in Tartu has decided that the Estonian Defence Ministry ex-official Herman Simm, found guilty of treason in 2009 and sentenced to 12.5 years in jail, has to serve his full sentence, not to be released earlier.

CPCB officers detain Kaimiņš after Saeima meeting

Officers of Latvia’s Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau detained Saeima deputy Artuss Kaimiņš after the end of the parliament’s meeting.

Around 15% of Estonian 15-19-year-olds estimated to have mental illness

In Estonia, an estimated total of 20,000-40,000 adolescents, comprising 10-20% of all teenage Estonians, have been found to suffer from a mental illness and close to 3,000 children have been prescribed antidepressants.

Chief: Anti-Money Laundering Service should not submit to a single person

Anti-Money Laundering Service should not be controlled by a single person, says chief of the Control Service Ilze Znotiņa.

Saeima permits commencement of criminal process against Artuss Kaimiņš

This week Latvia’s Saeima voted in favour of the decision to detain and then perform a search in the home of Saeima member Artuss Kaimiņš from KPV LV political party.

U.S. withdraws from UN Human Rights Council voicing sharp criticism

The U.S. has withdrawn from the United Nations Human Rights Council describing the body as being politically biased and not working towards reducing human rights violations globally.

Latvian minister confirms interrogation by Lithuanian investigators

In the case regarding possible corruption in the National Blood Centre, Lithuanian services have interrogated Latvia’s Healthcare Minister Anda Čakša, as confirmed by the official.

Recreational use of marijuana legalised in Canada

Canadian Parliament has adopted a law legalising the recreational use of marijuana nationwide after medical use of the drug has been allowed since 2001. Canada is to become the second country in the world allow buying marijuana for recreational use.

Human Rights Committee: KGB documents should be made publicly accessible

Documents left from Latvian SSR KGB office are part of national document heritage and therefore should be handed over for lifetime storage and be made publicly accessible for research in Latvia’s National Archive.

Non-negotiated contracts; fictive deals: digital television introduction schemes for «mere mortals»

The criminal process revolving around digital television project’s realization in Latvia was launched 15 years ago – in 2003. And it began with a search in a company owned by Andris Šķēle. After that, the list of involved people started expanding with names like Andrejs Ēķis, Jurģis Liepnieks and others.

Doctors unjustifiably charged fees for services worth 255,000 last year

Last year, authorities found that medical institutions that provide state budget-financed healthcare services had charged fees for services worth EUR 254,994, according to data compiled by Health Inspectorate.

Budget Committee picks Swedbank economist for Bank of Latvia Council

On Tuesday, 19 June, Saeima’s Budget and Finance Committee unanimously decided to submit to the Saeima a decision project regarding approval of Mārtiņš Kazāks for the post of member of the council of the Bank of Latvia, as confirmed by Saeima’s press-service.

Farmers Saeima proposes declaring state of emergency in Latvia’s agriculture sector

Farmers Saeima association has sent a letter to Latvia’s State Chancellery, Agriculture Ministry, Finance Ministry and Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, detailing a request addressed to the Cabinet of Ministers and Saeima to declare a state of emergency in the country’s agriculture sector because of the lasting drought.

IT specialist’s lawyers appeal client's arrest in recent restaurant case

Lawyers of Edgars Štrombergs, who is the accused party in the Vairāk saules restaurant cash register data manipulation case, have appealed the security measure applied to him, as confirmed by sworn attorney Mareks Halturins.

Russian and Belarusian arms control experts hosted by Lithuania

Russian and Belarusian arms control inspectors have been hosted by Lithuania as NATO forces trained across the Baltic states and Poland in exercise Saber Strike 2018.

Latvia’s ports suffer freight volume decline in first five months of 2018

Latvian ports handled 27.072 million tonnes of freight in the first five months of this year, which is 7.5% less when compared to the same period of last year, according to data compiled by Transport Ministry.

Bicycle rickshaws in Tallinn will need safety belts from July

Seeking to regulate the provision of bicycle rickshaw services in the Estonian capital, the Tallinn City Council has is to more particular bicycle rickshaw regulations that would align the services closer to car taxis.

158 election sites to open in Riga during next Saeima elections

A total of 158 election sites are planned to be opened in Riga for this autumn’s Saeima elections, as confirmed by documents prepared by Riga City Council.

30% of Latvian residents are dissatisfied with their family’s financial state

Residents’ overall mood has declined considerably across all survey positions. Residents have become the most negative about Latvia’s economic situation – 31% of them believe it has worsened. When asked to voice their outlooks for Latvia’s economy in a year from now, 17% of respondents said it will have improved, according to results of Baltic International Bank’s latest Latvian Barometer.

Apple fined 5 million euros for customer rights violations in Australia

A court in Australia has ruled that U.S. tech firm Apple has to pay a fine of 5.7 million euros refusing to repair iPhones and iPads that had been serviced by third parties as those actions breached consumer law.

Latvian coalition still torn about attracting highly-qualified guest workers

Because of differences in opinions among ministries, Latvia’s government is unlikely to support and view the proposal to ease the issue of EU blue card to highly-qualified guest workers without appropriate higher education, says Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis.