17 January 2022, Monday, 10:36
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A Scandal Erupts in Lithuania over Arrested BelAZ Vehicles

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A Scandal Erupts in Lithuania over Arrested BelAZ Vehicles

The former deputy head of Vilnius prison might have helped a Belarusian company bypass sanctions.

Seimas deputy Mindaugas Linge wrote a statement to the General Prosecutor's Office with a request to assess the possible violation of the law. According to the document, BelAZ has been under EU sanctions since June 21, Ezhednevnik reports.

In early August, Belship won a tender for the transportation of 10 mining dump trucks manufactured by the Zhodzina plant to Chile. Interestingly, since September 2019, the owner of Belship is a Lithuanian citizen Aleksejus Linevas, who for a long time worked as the deputy director of the Vilnius prison and retired from service in July 2018 after a scandal. Investigative journalists from Lithuania and Belarus investigate that, since December 2018, Linevas controlled Belship through the Cyprus-based Nativus Limited, which previously belonged to offshore companies from the Marshall and Seychelles. Their owners are unknown.

Belship's website says that the company has long been specializing in freight forwarding services for foreign trade cargoes of the machine-building complex of Belarus.

“Employees of our company have more than 17 years of experience in transporting BelAZ quarry equipment, as well as urgent deliveries of components, including Cummins and MTU engines, directly "from the wheels" to ensure the smooth operation of the plant's conveyor,” follows from the company's presentation.

Nativus' assets at the end of 2018 amounted to more than $ 270 thousand. However, on the eve of leaving the penitentiary system, Linevas, together with his wife, declared 100 thousand euro, writes siena.lt. It is not known what the Lithuanian businessman is doing in addition to transportation. He declined to comment.

Belship's director Vadim Makarov did not deny that the company intended to supply dump trucks through Klaipeda, but refused to say how they planned to do this under the sanctions, referring to the confidentiality of the transaction. A BelAZ representative said that delivery options could be very different. The main requirement of the Belarusian side is that the cargo is delivered to the end consumer.

It is unknown how the transportation of dump trucks was carried out in the end. However, even if Belship sent BelAZ trucks to Chile bypassing the European Union, the issue of sanctions remains relevant.

"Being the only acting agent of the company and benefiting from the object of sanctions, he can be considered as a violator of EU sanctions," reads the commentary of the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry. According to the Lithuanian laws, the minimum penalty is a fine, and the maximum is up to five years of imprisonment.

After the release of the journalistic investigation, the deputy of the Seimas Mindaugas Linge said that he had written a statement to the General Prosecutor's Office with a request to check possible violations of the sanctions.

"The information disclosed in the investigation allows us to reasonably ask whether the EU sanctions have not been violated, which implies liability under the Criminal Code," commented Linge.

It is worth mentioning that, in early September, the Lithuanian customs blocked the transit of four BelAZ dump trucks, which were disassembled into 18 containers, through the port of Klaipeda in Chile. However, after the proceedings, the Lithuanian authorities still allowed the transport of BelAZ vehicles through Klaipeda, since 80% of the cost of the goods was paid before the imposition of sanctions against the Zhodzina state giant.