bnn.lv Latviski   bnn-news.com English   bnn-news.ru По-русски
Monday 17.12.2018 | Name days: Teiksma, Hilda
LithuaniaLithuania

Major political corruption case reaches court in Lithuania

FaceBook
Twitter
Draugiem
print
(No Ratings Yet)

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

Illustrative image

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

A major political corruption case with involving MG Baltic, one of Lithuania’s largest business groups, and two political parties, the Liberal Movement (LM) and the Labour Party (LP), has reached Lithuanian court this week.

The authorities suspect that Raimondas Kurlianskis, one of the MG Baltic executives, aimed to secure decisions through Eligijus Masiulis, the-then Liberals’ leader, and Vytautas Gapšys, the deputy chairman of the Labour Party, that would benefit the company from the adoption of the bill on consumer loan, the parliamentary resolution on private-public sector partnership in reconstruction of Vilnius-Utena highway and influence on other decisions.

According to the suspicions, Kurlianskis aimed to influence politicians in connection to some key appointments – Gapšys was given bribes for a pledge to influence a decision to leave Stasys Dailydka, then CEO of the state-run railway company Lietuvos Geležinkeliai, in post for another term, as well as a pledge to influence members of the political group when deciding on the results of public procurement deals at the Ignalina nuclear power plant.

Back in the spring of 2016, Eligijus Masiulis, the chairman of the LS, was caught in his car at Lithuanian Parliament with over 100,000 euros in cash stuffed in a bottle box. The money that had been purposefully marked by the investigators. The bribe was paid to him by Kurlianskis, a vice-chairman of MG Baltic. More cash was found Masiulis’s home raided by Lithuania’s Special investigation service (STT) and the police.

In the wake of the scandal, Masiulis resigned as leader of the LS and gave up his parliamentary seat. A few weeks later Gapšys, the-then member of the coalition government, was also questioned about bribery allegations involving MG Baltic, and had his home and office were also searched by law enforcement officers.

The political corruption case involving MG Baltic, the Liberal Movement and the Labour Party was opened Wednesday, April 18. In the words of the prosecutors, the pre-trial investigation was «extremely» extensive, including 108 volumes of materials and 450 pages of indictment.

Ramūnas Lukošius, chief of the Pre-Trial Investigation Division of the Vilnius Board of the Special Investigation Service (STT), told Lithuanian media that the probe revealed a scheme of political corruption.

«We managed to disclose facts in the criminal sense and the general political sense in connection to not individual cases of political corruption – we’re talking about a corruption system, which entails political leaders and casts a shadow on other persons who are not suspects in the case but their names are listed,» said Lukošius.

In his words, the investigation showed that business figures aiming for favourable decisions «made every possible effort via their representative to bribe politicians, influence their decisions and people who make the decisions at the top level.»

Ahead of the court sitting, ex-MP Eligijus Masiulis held a news conference to comment on the charges against him. He reiterated his innocence and claimed that the case was politically charged.

He insisted that the bribe he is charged with taking from Kurlianskis was merely a loan for investing in real estate, adding he had paid the loan back.

«I was convinced… that everything would be established fairly and that I would be notified that the suspicions against me had been dropped, although I understand that the decision takes courage. Unfortunately, I was very wrong, today I face charges,» Masiulis underscored.

In his words, studying the case materials revealed the facts «that prosecutors attempted to scandalously conceal and continue to ignore the best they can.»

As part of the pre-trial investigation, prosecutors questioned more than 150 individuals, including over 50 members of the current and former parliaments, a few former ministers and members of the European Parliament. A total of 200 interrogations were conducted in addition to 30 searches.

Prosecutors say the physical entities face the maximum jail term of up to eight years in prison, while the legal entities may face liquidation, restriction of operations or a fine of up to 1.9 million euros.

The prosecutors rejected the allegations by MG Baltic president Darius Mockus about the case being politicised, emphasising that the statements «were not based on facts.»

Law-enforcement officers found a loan agreement concluded with Kurlianskis in his car on May 10 2016 and filmed it, said Masiulis, adding that the document was not seized 30 minutes later and excluded from the case.

«The scandalous conduct by prosecutors astonishes me and shows one fact – things that do not come in handy to prosecutors and that destroy charges… are deliberately ignored,» he added.

The former politician said that the 90,000 euros seized from his car were a loan from Kurlianskis, «the most stupid act in life.»

Masiulis, however, rejected the charges of political corruption.

«Political corruption should have a clear logic – there is some payment for something. I clearly state that I did not see the logic in the materials that I read,» he stated.

STT also claims that the Liberals’ 2016 election campaign was partially financed from funds of Laisvės Studijų Centras (Centre for Liberty Studies), a think-tank whose founders include the Liberal Movement’s former leader Eligijus Masiulis and his deputy Gintaras Steponavičius, but provided no details.

The Centre had received funding from MG Baltic on several occasions.

Amid suspicions of bribery and influence peddling in Lithuania’s largest case of political corruption, Kurlianskis, who was also board chairman of LNK group and MG Baltic Media, announced resignation from the concern and sold its 2.34 per cent stake of MG Baltic Investment shares to Mockus, the chief shareholder.

To bolster fight against political corruption in the country, the Lithuanian legislature, Seimas, has passed a set of amendments to the Law on the Public Prosecutor’s Office. The changes envision that, starting from July 2018, political corruption cases in Lithuania are investigated by prosecutors with special powers and immunity.


Leave a reply

Inflation in Latvia was higher than average in EU and Eurozone in November

Inflation in Latvia in November was higher than average inflation in European Union and Eurozone, according to data published by Eurostat.

LRB: there are a number of idle plans with a possible goal to acquire EU money and divert attention

«It is not normal for EUR 100 million to be suddenly pumped into the road industry shortly before elections. By doing this, Transport Minister Uldis Augulis has hurt the road construction industry,» said Latvian Road Builders association’s chairman Andris Bērziņš in a conversation with BNN.

VNT: overall situation in the Latvian transit sector is extremely dire

VNT has experienced 5% growth in last 11 months over the same period 2017 only as a result of its the strategic planning and significant improvements implemented over 2018.

Lithuania gives banking license UK technology «unicorn» Revolut

British digital payment firm Revolut, which has been valued at 1.5 billion euros, has been granted a banking licence in Lithuania, providing the firm the chance to work in the European Union regardless of Brexit.

Estonia testing internet voting with election in mind

E-governance-promoting Estonia is this week testing internet voting offering voters to send holiday greetings and to select themselves a present from the country's e-voting system.

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

Wing 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.

Andris Ameriks steps down as Vice-Mayor of Riga

The vice-Mayor of Riga Andris Ameriks has decided to step down. He announced his decision at a press-briefing on Monday, 17 December.

May: Repeated Brexit referendum would break population's trust

British Prime Minister Theresa May, responding to high profile calls in the UK politics to hold a second referendum over the country's withdrawal from the European Union, has evaluated that it would «break faith with the British people».

Number of passengers carried by airBaltic up 18% this year

Latvian airline airBaltic has carried 3,842,952 or 18% more passengers during the first eleven months of 2018 than in the same period last year to its network spanning Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, CIS and the Middle East.

Government scenario without UGF to be discussed first in Latvia

Under prime minister candidate Krišjāņis Kariņš’s leadership, parties in Latvia could first discuss government formation without the Union of Greens and Farmers, according to unofficial information.

Katowice conference arrives at guidelines for realising emmission curbs

Signatories of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Agreement have reached a compromise set of guidelines for implementing their commitments as the world's governments agreed to take effective steps to reduce their carbon dioxide emmissions.

Cold weather with periodic snowing to ensure presence of snow in Latvia this week

A precipitation zone will cross Latvia at the beginning of the month, which will bring considerable snowing. With that, the layer of snow in Latvia will increase 4-8 cm.

Week in Lithuania. Prosecutors mull probe into Russia sanction violations

Lithuanian prosecutors announced this week they were mulling launching a pre-trial investigation in to the purchase by around ten companies of fertilizers from Russia's Minudobreniya, which allegedly violates the EU's sanctions against Russia.

BNN summary of the week: scheme bubble of Rīgas satiksme; Estonia raises wages; government formation in Latvia

BNN offers a summary of this week’s topical news in a variety of categories: Scandal; Plans; Growth; Protests; Amendments; Fight; Opinion.

Experts: fiscal consolidation is unavoidable next year

The new government will have to perform fiscal consolidation when compiling the state budget for 2019. This opinion was sent to the Saeima and Cabinet of Ministers by the Fiscal Discipline Council in relation to the 13th Saeima’s approval of amendments for the Healthcare Law that provide for a 20% wage increase for doctors starting next.

Ventspils opposition: the Constitution stands above municipality’s opinions on city governance

«For us to work to our full capacity, we require information and stay in the loop. If the work of the city council was organized during meetings of the city council and committees, we would have this opportunity. But because the work of the city council is put under other institutions – committees, in this case – and we [majority of opposition deputies] are not allowed to participate in those meetings and receive documents, this means our rights as deputies and voters are being limited. This, we believe, is the most important aspect to be breached,» said Ventspils City Council opposition deputy Aivis Landmanis said during a hearing of the Administrative Court in Liepaja in regards to Ventspils City Council’s refusal to adopt proportionality principles in committees and other structures.

EU offers Britons clarification, but no renegotiation of Brexit deal

European Union member state leaders and the blocs top officials have stated at a summit with British Prime Minister Theresa May, that the Brexit withdrawal agreement that lacks clear support in UK parliament was not open for renegotiation.

Estonia raises minimum wage

The minimum monthly wage in Estonia has been approved at the level of 540 euros, which is an increase from 500 euros.

This year e-signature was used to sign more than 5.7 million documents in Latvia

This year, e-signature was used more than half a million times a month in Latvia. A total of 5.7 million documents have been signed using this function in Latvia so far. More than 25,000 now use e-signature function on their smart-phones.

Trump distances himself from crimes committed by his lawyer

Reacting to the conviction of American lawyer Michael Cohen over campaign funding violations, U.S. President Donald Trump has distanced himself from the lawyer and accused him of attempts to embarrass Trump.

New Unity starts consultations with parties on forming government with Kariņš in charge

New Unity will insist on getting Finance Ministry in the new government, because it is only logical to have this ministry managed by the prime minister’s party, says NU representative and Saeima deputy Ojārs Ēriks Kalniņš.

Strasbourg terrorist «neutralised» after opening fire on police

The attacker suspected of killing two people and injuring 12 more people at a Strasbourg Christmas market has been shot dead by French police.

Next week in Latvia to start off with snowfall

The end of the week is not expected to have any major weather changes in Latvia, whereas next week will start off with snowfall and gradual decline of air temperature, promises Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre.

Court arrests Harmony sponsor and Honour to Serve Riga party member

Riga City Vidzeme District Court issued an arrest to businessman Aleksandrs Krjačeks on Thurday, 13 December. He was previously detained by Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau in the criminal case regarding procurements organized by SIA Rīgas satiksme, as confirmed by the man’s lawyer Valdis Ulmanis.

Saeima: increase of doctors’ wages should be a government priority

When preparing the budget plan for the next three years, the government should allocate money for the 20% increase of doctors’ wages. This is provided by changes to Healthcare Financing Law, approved by the Saeima in two readings on Thursday, 13 December.

Newest comments