International scandal: bribes that are worth millions are sinking Lithuania‘s officials and politicians

AP / Scanpix

Influential Lithuanian politicians are sinking in one of the largest scandals of international corruption alongside essential political parties and directors of state corporations. An investigation conducted in several countries not only reveals multimillion bribes given to the most important politicians of the state but also raises a question: what was states justice system doing for the last decade that a crime of this scope was revealed to them by foreign officers. Besides that, it appears that if suspicions are right, the price of these crimes will surpass the financial damages inflicted by the corruption, reported.

The international case is sinking Lithuanian politicians

United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office has completed and passed on a criminal case to the courts, in which “Alstom Power LTD”, a division of „Alstom“ – an international corporation working in the area of energy and communication infrastructure, and their representatives Nickolas Paul Reynalds and Johanes Villi Venskus were criminally charged for paying bribes for commissions of „Lithuanian Energy“ at the period of January of 2002 to March of 2010. The trial in London is going to start in October.

Information regarding possible corruption by „Alstom“ representatives, including in Lithuania, to the United Kingdom was given by the General Prosecutor’s Office in Switzerland.

„Lithuania will be shocked to the core by what is going on there and I hope that it will be the first step in reducing corruption by moving in European Union not only de facto but also with real change by removing corrupt politicians and putting them in jail and destroying the system that allows for corruption to happen“, said Naglis Puteikis, assistant to the leader of Parliaments Audit committee.
Investigation into „Alstom“ is being conducted by an international provision, which prohibits citizens and legal entities to take part in corruption as well as in foreign countries. „Alstrom“has already pleaded guilty in the United States, which gave a record breaking fine of 770 million US dollars and jailed a few responsible employees of the company. The investigation, which is affecting Lithuanian politicians, is also taking place in Switzerland, France, Germany, Italy, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia.

As well as in Lithuania, “Alstom” corporation in Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the Bahamas, Taiwan, India, Tunisia, Poland and Hungary would bribe politicians and directors of public companies in exchange for government contracts while millions were laundered through local consultants and sub-contractors.

In their own investigation Lithuanian Special Investigation Service (STT) have already charged directors at the time of “Lithuanian Energy” and Lithuania’s power plant – Rymantas Juozaitis and Pranas Noreika. For a long time they were protected by Lithuanian Social Democratic Party and the Ministry of Economy. The leader of this Ministry was also the founder of the Labour Party, and now a member of the European Parliament – Viktor Uspaskich, who got the attention of the courts.
“I cannot comment, let the investigators talk” – cut off the member of the European Parliament and former Minister of Economy, Viktor Uspaskich.

He was questioned in the “Alstom” investigation regarding mass bribing just as a special witness because he has judicial immunity as a member of the European Parliament.

The politician himself stated on Friday, that he communicated with the investigators who are in charge of Labour Party’s case regarding Black Book-Keeping.

A massive bribe

It is suspected that “Alstom”, regarding agreement with “Lithuanian energy” in Thermal plant in Elektrėnai, Hydro accumulation power plant in Kruonis and Kaunas, the bribes were being paid not only to R. Juozaitis and P. Noreika, but also to the representatives of the Ministry of Economy which were in charge of these plants. That includes the Minister at the time V. Uspakich. He could have received a bribe of more than 1,44 million euros, while the whole bribe may have reached a sum that was two or three times higher.

“It is not a coincidence that he is being questioned as he was he Minister of Economy at the time. They have basis to think that he could have been a part of the international bribing system. It is obvious that he saw politics as a business, so it is not surprising that he is being questioned in this case”, said Povilas Urbšys, forms Member of Parliament and the leader of the board of STT at Panevėžys.

During the leadership of V. Uspaskich, the Labour Party was shadowed by a massive political corruption. IT even had the Black Book-Keeping. Recently the Supreme Court has sentenced him with a symbolic fine, and the party avoided responsibility because of the statute of limitations. Numerous businessmen have complained that in order to get European financial support had to give bribes.

Bribes for the high officers as well

Large bribes could have also been demanded by former secretary of the Ministry of economy, who were protected that times Lithuanian Social Democratic Party who was in coalition with V. Uspaskich ruling party.

“This is only the beginning. The mentioned individuals only took action. They are the middle part of the problem in passing on sums of money to higher officials. Actions will be taken against them as well” said N. Puteikis, assistant to the leader of Parliaments Audit committee.

Influential suspects are a possibility

Three high ranking Parliament members, two influential political parties and one mayor, who could have laundered the money through financing a political party, could be involved in the massive international bribing scandal. It could also include famous former politicians.

Bribes were generated by inflating the order budgets, the money laundered through schemes of financial fraud. The suspects themselves could have pressured to get bribes by stopping payments for completed work until a demanded sum was receives. Because of this Lithuania could receive compensations for damages from the court proceedings that are taking place abroad. However, at this time the judicial system in the country is weak and affected by corruption. It has turned away in ignorance in regard to large sums of money and the inflow of illegal funds.

“These investigations are an evaluation of sorts on how our judicial system has been working for the last ten years and why these crimes are being uncovered by others and then reported to us”, said Sergejus Muravjovas, the director of Lithuania’s division of “Transparency International”.
It is stated that a special working group in Paris, which fights international bribing, is monitoring the investigation and if the investigation is stopped it will harm Lithuania’s cooperation regarding membership in Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

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