Lithuania's deputy healthmin, company reps named suspects in coronavirus test probe

  • 2020-08-03
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Suspicions as part of an investigation into procurement of rapid coronavirus tests have been brought not only against Lithuania's Deputy Health Minister Lina Jaruseviciene but also representatives of Profarma, a Lithuanian company, Mindaugas Petrauskas, deputy director of Lithuania's Finance Crime Investigation Service told journalists on Monday.,

"Yes, (Profarma – BNS) a Lithuanian company. Furthermore, we have four directions: we are investigating the deal itself, the money that could have been illegally obtained. We are also investigating a case of fraud and possible abuse, and we also investigating potential money-laundering," Petrauskas told journalists, adding suspicions have been brought against some of the aforementioned-company's representatives.

"Yes, against persons linked to this company. Some of them have been questioned, and we have special witnesses and also suspects. There are six suspects right now," Petrauskas said.

The probe was announced in early June and centers around the procurement of rapid coronavirus tests, worth 6 million euros, by the National Public Health Surveillance Laboratory.

Asked about potential suspicions against representatives of the laboratory, Petrauskas stressed the fact that the laboratory's head Vytautas Zimnickas passed away several weeks ago, and suspicions have not been brought against other employees yet.

Petrauksas said Jaruseviciene "is yet the only official" with suspicions brought against her. "We was question today and was informed about suspicions and the measure of suppressions, a written undertaking not to leave," he said.

The FCIS representative paid attention to the fact that the service is carrying out an investigation into rapid tests. Meanwhile, the Special Investigation Service is carrying out a separate investigation into the procurement of coronavirus test reagents by the National Public Health Surveillance Laboratory, with both services exchanging information.

The FCIS probe was launched in early June and is focusing on alleged fraud, document forgery, legalization of illegally-obtained funds and abuse related to procurement of rapid coronavirus tests. 

The pre-trial investigation was launched upon receipt of information on suspicious financial transactions of the aforementioned company.

The funds the company tried to use were received after a contract was signed with the the National Public Health Surveillance Laboratory following procurement of rapid COVID-19 tests. The use of illegally-obtained funds was subsequently restricted.

The company is suspected of having forged documents and provided false information on the producer of the rapid tests when signing the 6 million euro contract, according to the investigation.

It is suspected that the buyer was misled and did not allegedly carry out a market research and did not evaluate the price of the goods being procured and the market conditions. After the contract was signed, the funds were transferred to the test provider.