More details of the Š. Stepukonis investigation revealed: new facts emerge, FNTT called top priority

Justas Laucius, chief prosecutor of the Vilnius Regional Prosecutor's Office, says that they had launched a pre-trial investigation after receiving information from Paysera LT UAB regarding the receipt of EUR 3.9 million from a Polish company by Šarūnas Stepukonis, a former partner of BaltCap Infrastructure Fund. According to the prosecutor, it was then established that the money was transferred as part of a stock sale transaction, so the investigation was discontinued, but this week it was resumed. fotomontažas. fotomontažas.
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Feb 9, 2024, 12:59 PM, atnaujinta Feb 9, 2024, 1:00 PM

„The Vilnius Regional Prosecutor's Office organised a pre-trial investigation by the FNTT, which was initiated following a report by Paysera LT UAB regarding a suspicious financial transaction. There were no further reports from Paysera to the Vilnius Regional Prosecutor's Office or investigations based on them. The case concerned a bank payment from a Polish company to Šarūnas Stepukonis' account at the end of March 2022.

The payment amounted to EUR 3.9 million,“ J. Laucius told a press conference on Friday.

„The anti-money laundering law initially froze these funds. Later, following a pre-trial investigation, they were subject to a temporary ownership restriction. The pre-trial investigation was initiated under Article 216(1) of the Criminal Code, which deals with realising assets obtained by criminal means.

In simple terms, money laundering“, said Mr Laucius.

However, Mr Laucius claims that the pre-trial investigation has been reopened based on discovering essential circumstances that were unknown.

„In this pre-trial investigation, the prosecutor of the specialised division of the Vilnius Regional Prosecutor's Office decided to close it in early August 2022. The totality of the arguments of the decision shows that this decision was taken after taking into account the findings of the FNTT Money Laundering Board, the findings of the State Tax Inspectorate, the written data provided by the banks, and the findings of Š. Stepukonis himself, who has been questioned as a special witness in this pre-trial investigation,“ he explained.

I cannot say where Š. Stepukonis is at the moment

At the same time, the Director of the FNTT, Rolandas Kiškis, says that the pre-trial investigation into the possible embezzlement of around 30 million euros by Š. Stepukonis is extensive.

„We will inform you about the progress every two weeks. (...) This is a top-priority investigation, with a team of officials from several FNTT units, in this case, more than 10 of them. In contact with foreign partners, with the same colleagues from Estonia.

The pre-trial investigation is extensive, with 100 reports of possible financial transactions already sent in Lithuania and abroad. It is unprofessional to draw any preliminary conclusions without gathering information,“ he told a press conference on Friday.

R. Kiškis said he could not say where Š. Stepukonis was at the moment. „We are making every effort to find him“, he said.

„We think the system is working well, and the flags are going up in most cases. We don't see any major fundamental flaws in the system at this stage. We see issues that need to be corrected in

terms of regulation, and we are doing this on an ongoing basis, as far as the legislative framework is concerned,“ Mr Kiškis added.

The Head of the FNTT said at the press conference that they had received only one report on Š. Stepukonis – from UAB Paysera LT.

„It seems to me that we have not received any from Olympic Casino“, he said.

„Overall, in 7 years, 7 STRs – these are called suspicious transaction reports“, Mr Kiškis added.

The investigation has been resumed

On Friday, the Public Prosecutor's Office issued a notice recalling that a pre-trial investigation was opened in November 2023 into the alleged misappropriation of assets of the private equity fund Baltcap AS and the companies directly and indirectly owned by the fund, amounting to more than €20 million, with a very high value.

„It has been established that the financial transactions investigated in both pre-trial investigations involve the same companies and bank accounts, the overlapping periods of some of the money transfers investigated in both cases and other circumstances relevant to assessing the legality of the actions and circumstances. (...)

Therefore, the Chief Prosecutor of the Vilnius Regional Prosecutor's Office has assessed these new circumstances, which were not known and established at the time of the adoption of the prosecutor's 2022 decision to discontinue the pre-trial investigation, as has become apparent as material circumstances that are relevant to the fair resolution of the case and which justify the need to continue the prosecution in the case of the laundering of criminally acquired assets.

Having established that this ground for reopening the pre-trial investigation exists in the case, the decision of the Chief Prosecutor of the Vilnius Regional Prosecutor's Office of August 2022 to discontinue the pre-trial investigation on the laundering of criminally acquired assets was revoked, and the pre-trial investigation was reopened,“ the report reads.

The reopening of the pre-trial investigation has been notified to the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO), which monitors pre-trial investigations into the misappropriation of very high-value assets.

ELTA recalls that BaltCap is facing reputational problems after it terminated its contract with the former BaltCap Infrastructure Fund partner Š. Stepukonis in November last year. He is suspected of embezzling around €30 million, at least part of which may have been lost in casinos.

The investigation into Mr Stepukonis' activities is under the control of the European Public Prosecutor's Office and has been assigned to the FNTT.

According to Vilnius City Councillor Aleksandras Nemunaitis, Š. Stepukonis is currently fighting in Ukraine voluntarily.

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