Social Liberals suspected of gambling-related corruption

  • 2006-08-16
  • From wire reports
VILNIUS - A member of the state gaming commission has given testimony suggesting that the New Union (Social Liberals) might have voted in favor of a casino is exchange for financial support.

Petras Navikas, a member of the State Gaming Control Commission, has reportedly claimed that two Social Liberals appointed to the commission by Arturas Paulauskas, party leader and the then parliamentary speaker, voted for decisions favorable to Olympic Casino Group Baltija on several occasions.

The Mecom Group, a firm related to the above company, donated 70,000 litas (20,000 euros) to the Social Liberals in 2004.
Mecom Group and Olympic Casino Group Baltija belong to the Estonian company Olympic Entertainment Group.
The Social Liberals will have to explain their favor for their financial supporters, as a task force has been formed by the Central Electoral Committee to probe the testimony.

In Navikas' words, the votes of Vytautas Janulis and Ilona Daiva Gajauskiene, members of the New Union, determined decisions favorable to Olympic Casino Group Baltija in that the latter was allowed to organize gambling tournaments.
Last year, Olympic Casino Group Baltija faced big problems due to violations of the Gaming Law. According to Navikas, there was a draft decision whereby the company was warned about possible suspension of its license, but the draft was rejected thanks to the Social Liberals interference.

Navikas thinks that the Central Electoral Committee should ascertain whether the Mecom Group's financial support to the New Union was a reward for Janulis and Gajauskiene's decisions.
The Central Electoral Committee intends to carry out an investigation within two weeks. If the suspicions prove true, the New Union may lose a state subsidy. The party is slated to receive some 343,000 litas from the budget this fall.
The Social Liberals pulled out of the previous ruling coalition earlier this year after coalition partners, primarily the Labor Party, expressed no-confidence in Paulauskas.