Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Lithuania close investigation in Alstom bribery case

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Lithuanian prosecutors have closed their investigation into suspicions that France’s Alstom bribed Lithuanian officials more than a decade ago to win public procurement contracts and ensure unhindered implementation of projects.

The Prosecutor General’s Office said on Monday afternoon that the investigation into possible international corruption and bribery in the Lithuanian energy sector between 2004 and 2009 had been terminated due to insufficient evidence.

As part of the investigation, suspicions were brought against one person and several others were questioned as special witnesses, it said in a press release.

According to information available to BNS, the suspect was Rymantas Juozaitis, a former CEO of the state-owned energy company Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy).

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The investigation failed to produce sufficient evidence to prove that the suspect was guilty of bribery and to bring suspicions against other individuals, the prosecutors said in the press release.

In December 2018, a British court sentenced several former executives of Alstom for bribing Lithuanian officials.

It is suspected that bribes were paid to win public procurement contracts related to the construction of Unit Nine at the Elektrenai power station and upgrades at the Kaunas hydro power plant.

The French engineering group Alstom installed flue gas desulphurization equipment at Lietuvos Elektrine (Lithuanian Power Plant) in Elektrenai under a 200-million-euro contract and upgraded the Kaunas facility under a 43-million-euro contract.

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The Prosecutor General’s Office said the statute of limitations on all alleged criminal acts under the investigation had expired, except for one episode involving an alleged bribery of the then economy minister.

According to the prosecutors, the investigation collected “certain” evidence pointing to possible corruption and bribery, but it was insufficient to prove “the guilt of the suspect or other potential suspects”.

Juozaitis retreated on Monday that he had not committed any crime, but had been slandered by Pranciskus Jurgutis, a businessman.

“It was a difficult case. Like I said from the very beginning, I was slandered by a person who took advantage of the situation to take revenge after getting himself involved in that case,” he told BNS.

“As the CEO, I was not responsible for this project, nor suspicions were raised against Lietuvos Energija,” Juozaitis said.

“Law enforcement did a great job, because there was a lot of information that needed to be checked. And that person wrote false letters to England, and, based on that, these things were done,” he added.

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