2019.04.11 16:22

Lithuanian ambassador questioned in Russian banker's visa case

Lithuanian prosecutors questioned the country's ambassador to Russia in a corruption investigation, the Prosecutor General's Office confirmed on Thursday. Remigijus Motuzas is a special witness in a case related to issuing Schengen visas.

“Motuzas was questioned as a special witness yesterday,” Rita Stundienė, spokeswoman for the service, told BNS Lithuania on Thursday.

Special witnesses are normally questioned about their actions when there are no grounds to bring charges against them.

BNS Lithuania has not been able to contact Motuzas since Wednesday.

Suspicions of influence peddling have been brought against former Lithuanian diplomat Rimantas Šidlauskas, currently director general of the Association of Lithuanian Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Crafts, Russian banker Rinat Nasirov and Lithuanian businessman Albinas Bieliauskas.

Prosecutors suspect Šidlauskas of having been bribed to use his influence to secure a Schengen visa for Nasirov.

Motuzas had earlier confirmed that Nasirov and his son were issued Schengen visas in late March and had an invitation letter by Šidlauskas.

The ambassador claimed that Šidlauskas called him in late March and inquired if his letter had arrived.

Nasirov's lawyers confirmed that his client gave €3,000 to Šidlauskas, but contested that it was a bribe.

Nasirov co-owns a small bank, Novy Promyshleny Bank, with his sister.

According to Russian media reports, the Russian central bank suspended the license for Novy Promyshleny Bank, one of the smallest commercial banks in the country, in February 2018. The bank allegedly violated numerous rules on money laundering and terrorism funding prevention.