VILNIUS – Despite strained relations with Belarus, Santa Trade, a unit of Belarus' Santa Bremor, is enjoying a "golden age", with 2022 figures showing an increase in the transit of frozen fish via Lithuania to Belarus and hundreds of millions of euros in revenue for the three-employee firm, according to an investigation by the public broadcaster LRT and its foreign partners.
Santa Trade has been operating in the Lithuanian port city of Klaipeda since 2016.
Alexander Moshensky, an oligarch close to Belarus' dictator Alexander Lukashenko, has devised a scheme to pay fewer taxes in Europe, supply raw materials to a factory in Brest, in Belarus, and rack up tax-free profits in the tax haven of the Seychelles, according to the report.
Santa Trade, which is owned by Yana Moshenskaya, the 28-year-old daughter of Moshensky, shipped a record amount of frozen fish and caviar via Lithuania to Belarus last year. The company's profits came in at almost 3.2 million euros and revenue reached nearly 139 million euros.
Santa Bremor does no produce anything in Lithuania.
"We are engaged in transit. We do not sell anything at all," said Santa Trade CEO Robertas Vansevicius.
Santa Trade has been operating with negative capital since its establishment, which is not in line with Lithuanian law.
The State Tax Inspectorate (STI) says the negative capital indicator may raise questions as to whether the company is actually operating and seeking economic benefits.
Based on STI data, Santa Trade has paid 964,000 euros in taxes, including on corporate income, to the Lithuanian budget since 2016. However, the Klaipeda-based company recovered 637,000 euros in VAT last year and may claim back an estimated 1.2 million euros this year.