Lithuanian law-enforcement close corruption probe of MG Baltic, parties

Vytautas Gapšys and Eligijus Masiulis

The case will go to court after the suspects and their lawyers are acquainted with the investigation materials.

Suspicious in the case have been brought against three legal entities, namely, the Liberal Movement, the Labour Party and MG Baltic, as well as the following physical entities: ex-Liberals Eligijus Masiulis, MP Gintaras Steponavičius and Šarūnas Gustainis, former Labour MP Vytautas Gapšys and MG Baltic vice-president Raimondas Kurlianskis.

The Labour Party is suspected of bribery and influence peddling, the Liberal Movement is suspected of bribery, influence peddling and abuse, while MG Baltic is suspected of bribing the parties and influence peddling.

Prosecutors suspect the politicians took or negotiated bribes with Kurlianskis and later proposed or supported initiatives at the parliament or other institutions in favour of the concern.

Masiulis, the former leader of the Liberal Movement, is suspected of influence peddling, bribery and unlawful enrichment, the party’s former vice-chairman Steponavičius stands abuse suspicions, while former Vilnius city council member Gustainis is charged with bribery. Gapšys, ex-MP of the Labour Party, is suspected of bribery and influence peddling, while Kurlianskis is suspected of bribery and influence peddling.

In the course of the probe, many of the suspected politicians left their posts. Masiulis announced resignation from the Liberal Movement’s chairman on the day when the law-enforcement searched his office, home, car and the party’s bureau.

Meanwhile, Gustainis was expelled from the party before he became a suspect in the case, he also stepped down from a post in the municipal council of the Lithuanian capital. Steponavičius left the party but retained his MP mandate, while Gapšys gave up his MP mandate during the parliament’s hearing of the request from prosecutors to revoke his legal immunity.

All of the suspects plead not guilty.

Earlier this week, Kurlianskis said he was leaving MG Baltic. The concern announced plans of redeeming the 2.34-percent in MG Baltic Investment owned by Kurlianskis for an unspecified sum. After the deal is finalized, Kurlianskis will step down from all posts in the concern.

In the framework of the investigation, prosecutors questioned MG Baltic president and owner Darius Mockus and board member Romanas Raulynaitis as special witnesses, a status of people who testify about their actions, while prosecutors lack data to list them as suspects.

On Thursday, the law-enforcement said it had provided new information about possibly unlawful funding of the 2016 parliamentary election campaign of the Liberal Movement. According to the report, the campaign was established to have received partial funding from the Freedom Studies Centre, a public establishment co-founded by Masiulis and Steponavičius.

The authorities had already submitted information to the Central Electoral Commission about the Liberals’ campaign funding in the form of a training provided by the Institute of Applied Politics. The commission listed this as a gross violation of the law, stripping the party of nearly 400,000 euros of state grant for six months. The institute was founded by Gustainis.

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