Lithuania could use phone call records in its dispute against Veolia

Veolia
AFP / Scanpix

Prosecutor Kėstutis Vagneris of the Public Interest Protection Division at the Prosecutor General’s Office says that he unveiled his idea to produce the records to the ICSID in an official letter to two deputy prosecutors general after which a probe against him was opened.

“I said that these records could be among the proposed organizational measures to better prepare for hearings at the Washington arbitration court,” he told the 15min.lt news site.

According to the prosecutor, information on “possible corruption elements” would give Lithuania “an excellent opportunity” to defend itself against Veolia’s accusations that Lithuania’s authorities acted unlawfully.

“As far as I understand, these phone calls were recorded lawfully. In my opinion, their contents could be really significant” he added.

According to Vagneris, he collected the data while working on a request from MP Algimantas Dumbrava to defend the public interest regarding actions by Veolia’s local subsidiary Vilniaus Energija (Vilnius Energy), whose 15-year lease on the Lithuanian capital’s heating system ended last April.

Elena Martinonienė spokeswoman for the Prosecutor General’s Office, on Thursday promised to provide an official comment to BNS, but failed to do so by the end of the working day.

The Lithuanian Energy Ministry declines to comment on the grounds that the arbitration proceedings are confidential.

“The ministry does not comment on actions and information related to the international arbitration process. The ICSID has listed the case as confidential,” Aurelija Vernickaite, the energy minister’s spokeswoman, told BNS.

Veolia, the world’s largest water supply company, claims that its investment in Lithuania was undermined by unfair treatment by the country’s politicians and regulatory authorities and is seeking 120 million euros in damages in the ICSID. The Lithuanian central government, the Vilnius local authority and law-enforcement officials accuse Veolia’s representatives of illegal manipulation of energy prices and have submitted a claim worth around 200 million euros to the French group.

The Financial Crimes Investigation Service (FNTT) has brought a criminal case against former heads of Vilniaus Energija, saying that almost 3 million euros in damages were caused to Vilniaus Energija, Litesko, another Lithuanian subsidiary of the French group, and heating consumers as a result of illegal manipulation of gas purchase prices. Vilniaus Energija says that the case is based on incorrect and fictitious data.

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