Corruption arm raids gas terminal company

  • 2008-11-26
  • By TBT staff

GAS BILL: The Special Investigations Service is looking into whether a large portion of the country's new gas terminal was illegally sold to a major company without public tender.

VILNIUS - Lithuania's anti-corruption arm, the Special Investigation Service (STT) has seized the documents of the new company, Liquid Natural Gas Terminal (GDT), on suspicion of corruption and abuse of power.
The company, set up by the government to manage the building and operation of the new plant, was allegedly arbitrarily sold in part to Achema, a fertilizer company, owned by Lithuania's second richest man Bronislavas Lubys.

Achema was allegedly given the exclusive chance to buy 20 percent of the plant before it was built. A public tender should have been held to offer other companies the chance to buy into the public company.
The National Audit Office has also launched an investigation into the allegations that Achema's choice as shareholder might violate public procurement procedures.
The Ministry of Economy claim there was no violation of the law.

Secretary of the ministry, Anicetas Ignotas, said he sent out proposals to several companies, asking if they'd like to take part in the project. Achema was chosen by means of questionnaire.
Lubys, president and largest single shareholder of Achema group, which owns Achema, confirmed to BNS that the offices of GDT had been raided.
Ramutis Jancevicius of the Vilnius Prosecutor's Office (VPO) said the documents have been seized for the pre-trial investigation.
The VPO will seek information to verify the legitimacy of the agreement on the establishment of GDT, Jancevicius added.

Evidence permitting, VPO would recommend the annulment of the agreement for the sake of public interests.
Last week the government decided against a proposal to use its 18 percent stake in Lietuvos Dujos (Lithuanian Gas) to fund GDT.
Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas then said that the Cabinet wanted to consider the observations submitted by the National Audit Office.

Incoming Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said the new government would seek to clarify the circumstances of establishing the terminal operator.
The state owns 80 percent of GDT, which has authorized capital of 100,000 litas (28,985 euros).
The terminal will have a 5 billion cubic meter capability and could guarantee Lithuania's energy independency from Russia.
The plant is expected to be up and running by 2014 and will have some on-shore and some off-shore components.

The U.S. government paid 800,000 dollars for the plant feasibility study after concerns were raised about Lithuania's energy independence following the shut down of Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant.
After the shut down of the plant, electricity will primarily be produced by gas plants supplied by Russia.