“I informed the party’s executive secretary about my resignation from the party and the elder of the Seimas group about my withdrawal from the group,” Steponavičius told BNS on Friday.
He said he wanted the investigation to go as smoothly as possible, emphasizing he was not hiding behind his legal immunity but would keep the MP mandate in an effort not to be viewed as other persons charged with corruption.
“The reason why I am not resigning from the parliament is that my resignation would put me alongside persons charged with corruption. I truly disagree with the suspicions against me, therefore, I am saying once again: I see no reasons to say I have made a mistake or some criminal deed. I will prove this by legal way,” said Steponavičius.
Suspicions in an investigation of political corruption was brought against the MP on Thursday. Prosecutors have said that Steponavičius’ actions could be qualified as abu se of powers, which is punishable by a fine or up to seven years in prison.
A week ago, the parliament stripped him of his immunity. Prosecutor General Evaldas Pašilis told parliamentarians that Steponavičius had met with MG Baltic Vice-president Raimondas Kurlianskis to discuss illegal financing for his party and voted in favor of legislation benefiting the business group’s interests, thus undermining the authority of the Seimas and disgracing the name of a lawmaker.
Prosecutors had suspicions over 15,000 euros in the group’s support to two organizations – Laisves Studijų Centras (Centre for Liberty Studies) and the Gintaras Steponavičius Support Foundation, saying that Steponavičius voted in favor of laws useful for MG Baltic.
Steponavičius categorically dismissed the suspicions. He said he had not discussed adoption of laws with the businessman, emphasizing he had asked for support to the non-governmental organizations only. In his words, prosecutor Justas Laucius working on the case had told the ad hoc parliamentary commission that there was no direct evidence about Steponavičius pledging to vote for any laws in exchange for financial support.
Lithuanian prosecutors are conducted an investigation of larger-scale political corruption, which includes the episodes involving Steponavičius. In the case, suspicions have been brought against the Liberal Movement’s former leader Eligijus Masiulis – he is suspected of taking a bribe of over 100,000 euros from Kurlianskis in return for acting in the concern’s interest.
MG Baltic representatives have dismissed the suspicions against the group as abuse of powers and psychological pressure.