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Courts use funds illegitimately

  • 2009-04-30
  • Adam Mullett

Photo by Maria Moistlik

VILNIUS - The National Audit Office (NAO) has found in a recent audit that some of the country's courts used funds inappropriately and is calling for those responsible to be charged.

The office evaluated the results of financial audits performed at 67 common law courts and administrative courts and found that courts in Kaunas, Joniskis and Panevezys had allocated bonus payments to employees above acceptable levels.

The NAO stated that the employees of Kaunas district court, Panevezys administrative district court, Kaunas local court and Joniskis district local court, working according to employment contracts, were paid premiums and bonuses of over 500,000 litas (145,000 euros), which frequently exceeded the amount of their salaries, NAO Director of Communications Orijana Jekimauskiene told TBT.

"The managers decide who gets the bonuses. These were not only judges, but also civil servants and people working under labor treaties 's people that aren't judges or civil servants, but they work in the court," Jekimauskiene said.

She played down the possibility of cronyism in the court.

"The background is that people are paid for extra work, but this is not due to the friendship or special relations, but we believe that in some cases, it was not done on a legal basis."

There are no checks on those charged with allocating the funds for extra work, which can be up to 70 percent of the wage of civil servants.

"Usually it is the heads of the courts and this is the problem. Judges have legal immunity and administration responsibility. This is a problem," Jekimauskiene said.

Auditor General Rasa Budbergyte commanded the heads of the courts to eliminate the violations and to prosecute the guilty persons.

Part of the funds illegitimately used in courts has already been returned to the state budget. Jekimauskiene said that if the responsible people return the funds, the charges would be dropped.

"We hope that these courts will bring this money back and no more special procedures will be needed and there will be no need for prosecutors and they will bring it back on a voluntary basis."

Meanwhile, other courts in the country are without simple hygiene products in bathrooms.

A source known to TBT said that their court did not even have hand towels in the bathrooms.

"We don't have hand towels and I don't think we will have any time soon," the source said.

Officials have cited the economic crisis as the reason for the lack of hygiene products.