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Lithuania: Former director of the National Food and Veterinary Risk Assessment Institute indicted for bribery

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(Luxembourg, 6 February 2024) – Today, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) filed an indictment in the Regional Court of Vilnius (Lithuania) against a former director of the National Food and Veterinary Risk Assessment Institute of Lithuania, accused of illegally acquiring €296 871 through the receipt of bribes, illegal enrichment and money laundering.

It is alleged that, between 2021 and 2022, the former director used a legal entity set up by himself and his wife, as well as 15 other intermediary companies, to accept bribes from individuals in return for favours in the granting of public procurement contracts, financed by EU and national funds.

According to the evidence, these project applicants acted through a chain of intermediary companies, simulating the purchase and sale of fictitious services to inflate prices in their project proposals. Moreover, it is believed that they carried out fictitious financial transactions with the intention of concealing the prior criminal agreement, and to transfer bribes and launder money through this scheme.

The pre-trial investigation carried out by Lithuania’s Special Investigation Service also gives grounds to suspect that the former director and his wife transferred the illegally obtained money from their business’s bank accounts to their personal bank accounts, and invested it in real estate.

The National Food and Veterinary Risk Assessment Institute (Nacionalinis maisto ir veterinarijos rizikos vertinimo institutas) is a subordinate body of the State Food and Veterinary Service of the Republic of Lithuania, which carries out risk assessment functions and laboratory research in the fields of food and feed safety and quality, as well as veterinary medicine.

All persons concerned are presumed to be innocent until proven guilty in the competent Lithuanian courts of law.

In total, 23 persons have been prosecuted already during the pre-trial investigation. The proceedings against three persons who committed corruption and financial offences have been concluded by simplified proceedings. Twelve suspects have been released in the meantime and the investigation against seven persons is still ongoing, with suspicion of misappropriation of EU funds.

The EPPO is the independent public prosecution office of the European Union. Itis responsible for investigating, prosecuting and bringing to judgment crimes against the financial interests of the EU.