Corruption, Legislation, Lithuania, Markets and Companies

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Friday, 10.07.2020, 18:52

Court refuses to remand Lithuanian Business Confederation's head

BC, Vilnius, 03.06.2020.Print version
A Vilnius court denied on Wednesday the prosecution's request to remand in custody Valdas Sutkus, the president of the Lithuanian Business Confederation (LVK), informed LETA/BNS.

"The court did not grant the prosecutor's request and released the suspect from detention," Prosecutor Darius Stankevicius of the Prosecutor General's Office told journalists after the Vilnius City District Court's sitting. 

The court did not agree with the prosecution's argument that Sutkus might hamper the investigation, he added.  

Stankevicius said that the LVK president "is suspected of having committed three serious criminal acts and four minor criminal acts", but gave no further details.

As part of the investigation, a total of six people were detained on Tuesday on suspicions of illegal lobbying and influence peddling.  

Stankevicius said the suspects were subjected to milder, non-custodial measures of restraint, but gave no details.  

The Special Investigation Service (STT) said earlier on Wednesday that Sutkus is suspected of taking bribes from Mantas Zalatorius, the president of the Lithuanian Banks' Association (LBA), and certain road construction companies.  

Sutkus is also suspected of having been paid to collect and make public negative information aimed at undermining the authority of former Transport Minister Rokas Masiulis and tarnishing his political reputation, STT said.

The anti-corruption agency suspects that Sutkus accepted a bribe from Zalatorius, one of the suspects in the case, for representing LBA in late 2019 debates on Lithuania's 2020 budget package and bills on taxing banks' assets and raising the corporate tax rate for banks.

According to the investigation, the LVK president could also have accepted bribes from certain privately-owned road construction companies in exchange for his influence on political processes.

STT did not name these companies, but law-enforcement officials confirmed earlier that Juozas Aleksa, the CEO of Siauliu Plentas, and Aldas Rusevicius, the board chairman and CEO of Kauno Tiltai, had been detained as part of the investigation.

It is also suspected that the CEO of a privately-owned consultancy selected by Sutkus as LVK's partner in a EU-funded project gave a part of the funds received during the project to the confederation's president as a bribe. The consultancy’s CEO allegedly acted together with the CEO of a privately-owned IT firm. 

STT and the General Prosecutor's Office said on Tuesday that they were conducting an investigation into large-scale bribery, influence peddling and document forgery 

The anti-corruption agency said it had conducted dozens of searches. On Tuesday, its officers visited the head office of Kauno Tiltai, a leading transport infrastructure construction company in Lithuania, and the Maxima supermarket chain's managing company.

Prosecutors say law-enforcement bodies have sufficient evidence to suspect that Sutkus could have used his office and social connections to push through various pieces of legislation in exchange for unlawful financial reward. 

Zalatorius, who is suspected of influence peddling, was released from detention under recognizance not to leave his place of residence.


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