bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Wednesday 28.06.2017 | Name days: Kitija, Viesturs, Viestards

Lithuanian Liberals‘ leader nabbed with 106,000 euro bribe

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

For many years, Eligijus Masiulis, the chairman of Lithuania’s Liberal Movement, would stood out in the scandals-prone Lithuanian politics as a spotless figure with the record of an avid fighter against the vices of national politics – corruption, shady lobbyism and the remnants of the Soviet mentality. But in a single day the long-cherished reputation has been shattered with a snap of finger.

Charges of corruption and influence peddling

The raiders from the country’s Special Investigation Service (STT) busted the Liberals leader’s posh cottage on Mindaugas Street in central Vilnius and seized 106,000 euros – all beforehand marked by the special economic police unit.

Behind the bribe allegedly stands vice-president of the major Lithuanian business corporation MG Baltic, Raimondas Kurlianskis, who was apprehended following the raid. He faces charges of corruption and influence peddling. Sources in Lithuania’s Prosecutor General’s Office maintain MG Baltic had asked the Liberals’ chairman to pave way for motions in favour of the company’s business interests.

As the pre-trial investigation is ongoing, both Masiulis and the corporation’s executives keep their mouths shut, excusing themselves that it is the prosecutor who told them not to talk anything about the case.

How could it happen?

With the Liberals leader in hot water, political life observers, Liberals’ grassroots as well as ordinary citizens continued guessing how the politician, who always portrayed himself as an avid fighter against corruption, could end up in such shame.

Few commentators believe, however, that the money was supposed to fill Masiulis’ wallet. The most pondered it had to be funnelled into the party’s coffers and used to pay for services not on the official books.

Throughout the liberals’ ordeal, the internet was teeming with taunting zingers, like this one: «C’mon, Masiulis is just a victim. Do you really believe he could entrust his deputy Arvydas Guogas with the cooked books? Certainly not.»

Some of the liberals even suspect that the eccentric deputy might have colluded in ousting Masiulis. No evidence has been provided to support the claim, however.

Deputy’s cranky proposals

During the Liberals’ upheaval, Arvydas Guogas, the party’s first deputy chairman, a MEP and owner of an internationally operating betting company, TonyBet, stepped forward attempting to reign in the imminent damage to the party. But the propositions he’s made in that regard over the last couple of days left many bewildered. The multimillionaire of the Australian descent proposed to use lie detector not only to screen the fellow senior party members, but also the honchos of the other parties. Guoga also declared he wanted to replace the party’s secretary general with a senior-advisor, also Liberal, who is now on President Dalia Grybauskaitė’s team.

And furthermore: with the investigation just off the ground, the eccentric Lithuanian Australian hurried to repudiate the embattled party leader, repeating that the evidence the law enforcers have «are sufficient» to put Masiulis behind the bars. With all shaking their heads in disbelief, Guoga also pledged to build a church for his own money and to set up a fund, to which he promised 20 million euros, out of his pocket, too.

Liberals stripped Guoga of party membership

As the other Liberals were harkening to the party’s first deputy chairman in disbelief and anger, Guogas’ public bravado was abruptly stopped with the members of the Board of the Liberal Movement voting nearly unanimously to strip Guoga of the Liberal Party membership.

«Over the last three of four days Guoga was basking in the TV limelight, but he misused the appearances, failing to assess the risks that the TV cameras can be. Instead of trying to defuse the situation (that the Liberals found themselves in), he has been pouring gas into the fire,» Eugenijus Gentvilas, the leader of the Liberals’ electoral list told Lithuanian press.

Liberals can pay big price

Refusing to acknowledge defeat, defiant Guoga has vowed his support for the Conservatives (Lithuania’s Homeland Union and Lithuanian Christian Democrats) and hinted his political career is far away from being over.

Although many political analysts believe the opposite now, but some spout the internationally famous poker player will likely find his way to a presidential election race in 2019.

But the damage the party has suffered from his statements might be far-reaching.

«The Liberals have blown up a bomb in front themselves ahead of the parliamentary election campaign,» says Mažvydas Jastramskis, a political scientist of the Institute of International Relations and Political Sciences at Vilnius University.

«Unlike in other corruption scandals, this time the party leader himself is mired. Coupled with the fact that he was the poster face of the Liberals’ election campaign and that the large amount of money was seized at his home, the scandal can be too much for the Liberals to bear,» the analyst says.

Vilnius mayor took over party reins

Masiulis retains his parliamentary immunity until the Central Electoral Commission passes a decision to revoke his parliamentary immunity. Masiulis shows no sign to give a fight for it on the Lithuanian Parliament floor.

With the party’s two chief men off the political stage for now, Remigijus Šimašius, the mayor of Vilnius, has emerged as a possible successor of the troubled party. The other candidate mentioned by media is Eugenijus Gentvilas, a sexagenarian MP and former MEP.

In the time being, the liberals agreed that the former will temporarily head the party until the party’s convention picks up a new leader in June and the latter will lead the Liberal Movement’s electoral list.

Although the party tries to heal the wounds, some analysts ponder the party convention might turn into a battle for the power among the party’s different groups and that of Guoga, too.

Ref: 111.111.103.3530


Leave a reply

LDz Council Chairman Ansis Zeltins approved as new Freeport of Riga CEO

The committee responsible for the selection of candidates picked LDz Council Chairman Ansis Zeltins as the best candidate.

Estonian court: Right to protection of family life also to same-sex couples

Estonian Supreme Court has established in a decision that same-sex couples also have the right to protection of family life, when the court detailed Estonian court jurisdiction in disputes over residence permits involving foreign nationals.

Dzintars losses have declined: can the company survive the crisis?

Compared with 2015, net turnover of Dzintars declined by 104,000 euros in 2016. The company’s losses, on the other hand have declined by 904,000 euros when compared with 2015, says the company’s board member Dagnija Maike.

Victims of Portugal’s forest fires let down by communications with rescuers

After the Portugal wildfires, in which 64 people died and 254 got injured earlier in the month, the government of Portugal has ordered an investigation into the operation of emergency communication operations as at least 10 emergency calls are reported to have failed to reach firefighters.

Latvian Shipping Company sells House of Press for 16.8 million euros

Latvian Shipping Company’s subsidiary LASCO Investment has sold House of Press to PN Project, which is managed by Lithuanian real estate and private capital company Lords LB Asset Management. The total value of the deal is EUR 16.8 million, as reported by LSC.

Latvia and other countries refuse to support proposal for energy efficiency

The proposal to add changes to the Energy Efficiency Directive has been approved, establishing a goal to reach 30% of energy saving within the European Union by 2030.

Netherlands ruled partly liable for 350 Srebrenica victims

In relation to the Srebrenica massacre, an appeals court in the Netherlands has for the most part upheld an earlier ruling that the Dutch state was liable for the deaths of 350 Bosniak men in the 1995 Srebrenica massacre.

Lembergs fails to chair third meeting of the new Ventspils City Council; this time he «lost his voice»

Although the slogan of Ventspils is ‘City with tomorrow’, little changes in the work of the local city council – the organizational process of meetings remains absurd and incomprehensible. For example, Aivars Lembergs, who is legally prohibited from performing his duties as Chairman of Ventspils City Council but has been elected as mayor regardless, could not chair the most recent meeting of the city council. The excuse he gave was that he lost his voice.

Multi-storey building at Zolitude Tragedy site sold at an auction for 3.9 million euros

The multi-storey building located at the site of Zolitude tragedy in Riga, Priedaines Street 20, has been sold at an auction for EUR 3.9 million, according to information published at eizsoles.ta.gov.lv.

Registration of social service providers employs «silence means consent» principle

From now on administrative practice of institutions responsible for social service providers will employ a «silence means consent» principle to reduce bureaucracy. This means if service providers do not receive a response to their application from a ministry by a specific date, service providers will be well within their rights to commence providing services, explains Welfare Ministry.

Experts: Latvia either does not use advantages offered by technologies

In spite of wide technological opportunities to create a powerful digital economy, Latvia either does not know how or simply does not use those advantages. This hurts the country’s competitiveness on the global market.

Estonia pushed to ban low nutritional value products from schools

Food and drinks with a low nutritional value and rich in calories should not be sold in schools, sets forth a bill drafted by the Estonian Social Affairs Ministry and the Minister of Health and Labour.

CEOs admit – it is getting harder and harder to find new workers

Study results show that 60% of businesses admit it is getting harder and harder to find workers. This marks more complex personnel selection processes for employers, which often costs more time and money.

Opinion: consumption of dairy products in Latvia continues to decline

Consumption of dairy products continues to decline in Latvia, says Food Union Vice-President for strategy and businesses development matters Normunds Stanevics.

Russian military incidents over Baltic Sea unprofessional, not hostile, says NATO general

Aviation incidents involving Russian war planes above the Baltic Sea are not clearly hostile against NATO, but are rather unprofessional, Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Gen. Petr Pavel has evaluated.

FCMC applies fines to three Latvian banks

Finance Capital and Market Commission in cooperation with United States Federal Bureau of Investigation found out that three Latvian banks – Baltikums Bank, Privatbank and Reģionālā investīciju banka – have not complied with requirements for combating money laundering and terrorism funding.

Role of NATO forces in Latvia’s state defence to be discussed in detail

On Tuesday, 27 June, Commander of Latvian National Armed Forces Major General Leonids Kalnins will meet with Lieutenant General Manfred Hofmann, who is the NATO's Multinational Corps North-East Headquarters Commander.

After successful Italian local election, Berlusconi sets sights on returning to power

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has been convicted of tax fraud, has hailed the results of the large support his party has received in alliance with two other parties in the Italian local election.

LCCI decides to request a review of state expenditure

During an extraordinary meeting on Monday, 26 June, Latvian Chamber for Commerce and Industry decided to withdraw its support for the medium-term tax strategy until the government is ready to return to guidelines approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.

London outlines UK’s offer for post-Brexit stay of EU nationals

British Prime Minister Theresa May has stated she wishes for citizens of European Union member states to remain in the UK after the country leaves the bloc, outlining an offer for Brexit talks with Brussels.

Latvian ruling coalition agrees to introduce progressive PIT rate

The ruling coalition in Latvia has reached an agreement to differentiate personal income tax rate at 20%, 23% and 31%, as Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis told journalists after the coalition meeting.

Latvian Transport Ministry signs memorandum with Chinese Xinhua news agency

Transport Ministry’s State Secretary Kaspars Ozolins and Xinhua Vice-President Liu Siyang signed a memorandum on cooperation for mutual exchange of information associated with transport and logistics sector, BNN was informed by the ministry.

Opinion: Latvia is behind other countries both politically and economically

«Unfortunately, often the desire of our politicians to defend national interests is on par with that of the American president in relation to activities of Russian hackers. When two transit companies asked the government to compensate income of EUR 8.3 million lost because of the government’s stance on Ventspils Freeport’s involvement in Nord Stream 2 project, those businessmen were immediately called shameless,» Dienas Biznes journalist Egons Mudulis comments the situation with Nord Stream 2 project in Latvia.

Trial against Yanukovych suspended in Ukraine

A court in Kyiv has suspended the trial against the former President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, over state treason charges. Kyiv Obolonskiy district court, Yanukovych's lawyers opposed the petition of state prosecutor Ruslan Kravchenko on the application of special judicial proceedings in the case in the absence of Yanukovych from court.

First share trading platform opens in Baltics

The first share trading platform in Baltic States – Shareswall portal – has officially opened.

Newest comments