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Monday 20.05.2019 | Name days: Venta, Salvis, Selva

De facto: Tukums airport’s owners deny bribing Lithuanian army official

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUWing 4 Sky group – the owner of Tukums airport – denies their involvement in an attempt to bribe a Lithuanian army official. The corruption scandal surfaced when Tukums airport was trying to recover its lost reputation and certificate, as reported by LTV programme De facto.

In November 2018, Lithuania’s Special Investigations Service detained former Šiauliai airport’s director Romas Mikšys in the criminal case regarding an attempt to bribe a Lithuanian army official.

«Information stated that a manager of some private company had tried bribing a representative of Lithuanian airport, offering them more than EUR 90,000 to secure special treatment for a foreign company and have it take part and win in a public procurement,» says the service’s representative Renata Endružīte.

Lithuanian authorities do not provide more detailed information on this matter. Meanwhile, Lithuanian media report unofficial information that the company in question was Wings 4 Sky Group from Latvia. Wings 4 Sky Group currently leases to the Lithuanian army Czech jet training aircraft L-39 Albatros, the programme reports.

Lithuania’s army plans to announce a new procurement next year. However, it seems some people have started the competition early.

«A new procurement is planned next year. The company views this situation as an attempt to exclude a potential competitor from the procurement,» says Wings 4 Sky Group lawyer Viesturs Ločmelis.

He says the company is not involved in the bribery attempt. «We believe the fact that such information was reported in Lithuania is because that was the order behind the investigation. We have cooperated, but our company is not associated with the bribery attempt,» says Ločmelis.

LTV reports Lithuanians in Latvia actively cooperate with Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau. The company has voluntarily provided the requested documents associated with procurements. Not a single employee of Wings 4 Sky has been interrogated and none of them have been provided with any official statuses in the case.

The lawyer adds that Mikšis detained in Lithuania was not working in the company’s interests. If he did, it was his personal initiative. The company knows Mikšis because of past participation in auctions of old aircraft, De Facto notes.

Wings 4 Sky Group, previously known as K.S. AVIA, is the largest owner of Tukums airport. For the most part, the airport serves as a base for an airshow team, the programme reports.

This is not the first time Wings 4 Sky has had to answer questions asked by investigators. Konstantins Soloduha is the company’s co-owner. His name appears in the so-called Moldova arms case.

De Facto had previously reports that Soloduha’s properties were arrested during the investigation of the criminal case regarding the transportation of military arms from Moldova to Armenia. Nevertheless, he was not put on the bench of the accused. Investigation of this case still continues.

Wings 4 Sky Group’s executive director was tried in another criminal case – regarding document forging and the supply of helicopters parts to Yemen.

Soloduha’s actions cost Wings 4 Sky Group its airport certificate. It was revoked because security institutions did not like him being in charge of the airport.

De Facto also notes that to save the airport’s reputation, Soloduha had reduced his influence over the airport and stepped down from the management board. This year the company applied for a new certificate. Now, however, its name has been voiced in relation to the bribery case in Lithuania.

This time, Soloduha’s company could have circumvented security institutions. The airport applied for a certificate the issue of which does not require coordination with security institutions, LTV notes.

Tukums airport wants to become an airport that could be used in low visibility conditions, similar to Riga and Liepaja airport. However, the airport will not be allowed to service cargoes and passengers, but focus on private aircraft.

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