VILNIUS - The Prosecutor General's Office on June 29 brought charges against the largest party in Parliament, the Labor Party, for faulty bookkeeping and tax evasion. The party's chief, Loreta Grauziniene, who had been called in for questioning as a witness, was summoned to hear prosecutors' accusations.
After spending more than an hour at the Prosecutor General's Office, Grauziniene refused to comment. "This is material of a pre-trial investigation, and I will refrain from any comments," she said.
Meanwhile, the party's lawyer, Valdemaras Buzinskas, said he had learned nothing new during the interrogation.
The Labor Party is suspected of presenting misleading data on its income, profits and assets in an effort to evade taxes. The crimes could result in a fine, restriction or termination of the activities of a legal entity.
According to unofficial information, prosecutors have discovered "black accounting," which reflects unlawful financial activities, within the Labor Party.
Prosecutors questioned several persons during the probe, several as suspects, and have carried out searches at the Labor Party's main office. During one search, computers were confiscated. Several members of the Labor Party, including its acting leader and elder of the party's parliamentary group Grauziniene, and Civil Democracy Party leader Viktoras Muntianas, have been questioned.
In the wake of the scandal, Viktor Uspaskich suspended his powers as leader of the embattled Labor Party and left for Russia. It is unclear if and when he will return to Lithuania.
Asked whether authorities would try to extradite Uspaskich, Prosecutor General Algimantas Valantinas said "it would depend on the circumstances."
Commenting on the situation, President Valdas Adamkus said on June 28 that the Labor Party should refrain from participation in executive administration until the suspicions have been cleared. Presidential spokeswoman Rita Grumadaite confirmed this after Adamkus met with representatives of the Labor Party's faction, the largest in Parliament.
In Grumadaite's words, Adamkus urged Labor leaders to constructively cooperate with the Prosecutor General's Office conducting an investigation and openly admit mistakes made if this was established.
The president thinks that suspicions related to non-transparent party funding, an individual's involvement in possibly unlawful activities, downgrades the importance of not only the Labor Party, but also party activities in general.
The president also inquired about the Labor group's attitude toward forming a new government. Adamkus expects the Labor Party's faction to act responsibly during a vote on a candidate for prime minister.