bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Tuesday 06.12.2016 | Name days: Niklāvs, Niks, Nikolajs

Lithuanian Liberals‘ leader nabbed with 106,000 euro bribe

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(+1 of 1)

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

Elering announces tender for designing and building Estonian-Latvian power connection

As part of building the third power connection between Estonia and Latvia, Estonian power grid operator Elering has this week announced a procurement tender for designing and constructing the Estonian side of the project.

Expert: it is hard to tell small companies how they should work from now on

Because it is not entirely clear how the country’s tax regulations could change in the future, it is very hard to provide any recommendations to small companies in relation to their future, said KPMG senior auditor Gunta Kaulina in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Authorities stop drug smugglers, one of whom is a convict in Central Prison

On 23 November, officers of State Revenue Service’s Customs Police Office performed multiple searches in Riga. Searches were performed in homes of individuals held suspect for ordering different kinds of narcotic substances from Netherlands with of selling them in Latvia, including to convicts in Riga Central Prison.

VNT doubts the actual situation with source of stench in Ventspils has been checked

Ventspils nafta terminals denies accusations voiced against the company in relation to the spread of petroleum stench in Ventspils last week, although the company did not perform any cargo operations in the respective period.

Social networks and YouTube to build database to prevent recruitment of terrorists

Largest U.S. social networking companies have stated on December 5 that they cooperate to create a joint data base with images and videos that are employed to lure users into terrorist activities.

Economist: investment inflow will be positive, but slower than last year

In Q3, the current account formed a surplus of 1.5% of the country’s GDP, according to data from the Bank of Latvia. This year’s general surplus is 1.1% of GDP. It is expected that investment inflow will remain positive before the end of the year. It will be slower than last year, predicts Swedbank economist Agnese Buceniece.

Kaimins: government is prepared to dump billions into iron and concrete, but not people

«Thank the government for its lack of spirit, reversed priorities, cynicism and indifference towards Latvian taxpayers,» – said Saeima’s independent deputy Artuss Kaimins in his speech to the parliament.

French Interior Minister nominated for post of PM

Following the resignation of the current French PM, on December 6, the country’s Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has been named as the next head of government.

Pabriks: deals in the media sector are a matter of state security

Deals in the media sector are a matter of state security. With that, Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis and Economy Minister Arvils Aseradens should be more active in efforts to control strategically important business directions, said MEP Artis Pabriks.

Estonian manufacturers step up against excise tax hike on natural gas

Nine Representative bodies of Estonia’s manufacturing industry and the Estonian Employers’ Confederation jointly addressed the government on December 5 protesting against a planned excise tax hike on natural gas.

PHOTO: new Bombardier CS300 in a test flight above Latvia

On Monday, 5 December, Latvian national airBaltic airline performed a test flight above Latvia using the new Bombardier CS300 aircraft before its first commercial flight, which is planned for 14 December on the Riga-Amsterdam route.

Ventspils to spend EUR 23,000 on New Year’s fireworks

Festive New Year’s fireworks will cost EUR 22,900 without VAT in Ventspils this year, according to information from the Procurement Monitoring Bureau.

UN resolution for truce in Aleppo blocked by Russia and China

In a UN Security Council vote for a resolution urging to put in place a ceasefire in Syria’s possibly besieged second city of Aleppo, Russia and China have on December 5 used their right to veto.

20 additional stationary speed cameras are deployed on roads in Latvia

Based on the 8 November conceptual report of the Cabinet of Ministers regarding the progress of deployment of speed cameras, it is planned to install 20 more stationary speed cameras on roads in Latvia this Tuesday, 6 December.

International creditors agree on Greek debt relief

International lenders have on December 5 pledged to ease the heavy debt burden of Greece after a meeting of Eurogroup finance ministers.

BALTA: growth in non-life insurance market exceeds GDP growth indexes

In spite of slow non-life insurance market growth in Latvia, which had reached a mere 6% in the first three quarters, BALTA insurance association concluded the first nine months of 2016 with profits of EUR 3.2 million.

Lithuanians warned with TV ads to avoid being lured into espionage

In Lithuanian TV, informative adverts are being broadcast encouraging the population to be wary of kind strangers and call a hotline to check on them as attempts to recruit spies have been uncovered.

Investors: there are less and less reasons to invest in Latvia every year

In spite of efforts by policy-makers to sort out the business environment and make it more favourable, there have no serious changes in the last twelve months, and Latvia’s overall attractiveness for investors has not improved.

Industrial production output in Latvia up 6.7%

Compared to October 2015, industrial production output increased by 6.7 % in October 2016. Production output rise in manufacturing comprised 7.0 %, in mining and quarrying 9.8 %, and in electricity and gas supply 5.1 %.

EUIPO estimates the money Europe loses due to counterfeit goods and piracy

Counterfeit goods on the market cause nine industries to lose more than EUR 48 billion every year, according to estimates calculated in studies performed by European Union Intellectual Property Office.

Police shoot-out ends tragically in Ukraine

Two Ukrainian police units on December 4 mistook each other for criminals and engaged in a shoot-out, which ended with five policemen killed.

Money provided for deputy quotas is wasted; no one wants to take responsibility

The so-called deputy quotas first appeared at the end of the 90s – Prime Minister Vilis Kristopans’ minority government managed to secure support from the opposition for the state budget with LVL 2 million. Since then the opportunity to divide money for different books, films, municipal museums and roads has been a traditional part of the budget creation process.

Eight million euros wasted in e-projects in state administration

EUR 7.9 million have been recognized as wasted funding in e-projects organized by different ministries, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV. This means this money will have to be covered by Latvian taxpayers instead of structural funds.

Survey: Estonia leads Baltics in drug use

The consumption of most popular illegal psychoactive substances in Estonia is higher than in Latvia and Lithuania, found researchers, who compiled the European Drug Report 2016.

Meteorologists expect unstable weather conditions in Latvia this week

The beginning of the week for Latvia will pass with varied weather. On Monday, 5 December, west and south-west winds will carry warmer masses of air to Latvia. Because of that, maximum air temperature will reach +2° C… +7° C. Snow and wet snow will be gradually replaced with rain.

Newest comments