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2020.12.28 12:52

Swedbank freezes accounts of Belarusian spa in Lithuania due to EU sanctions

BNS2020.12.28 12:52

Swedbank has frozen the accounts of a Belarusian state-owned spa in Lithuania's southern town of Druskininkai.

Ilya Epifanov, head of the Belorus sanatorium, says he has already turned to Lithuanian institutions, asking them for a possibility to pay his employees, the majority of whom are Lithuanian citizens.

Epifanov told BNS on Monday the accounts were frozen on December 18. The sanatorium is not on the EU sanction list, but the GHU – the Main Economic Office of the Administrative Affairs Office of the President of the Republic of Belarus – was put on the list earlier this month.

The GHU is the only stakeholder in the Belorus sanatorium, according to the Lithuanian Centre of Registers.

"We have no connection to any natural person, we are a property of the Republic of Belarus, we have nothing to do with bad people or bad things," Epifanov told BNS.

"In this specific case, we can say that the bank has informed the client about the situation and possible solutions regarding salaries and other compulsory payments," Sauliaus Abraskevičius, spokesman for Swedbank, told BNS.

Read more: Battle over Belarus sanctions in Lithuania turns to Belaruskali – regime's financial backbone

"We are a successfully operating company that employs a lot of people, regularly and honestly pays all taxes, supports the State of Lithuania, and this situation is inconceivable for me," said Epifanov, the head of the Belorus sanatorium.

The majority of sanatorium employees, some 350 people, are Lithuanians, according to Epifanov. In total, the sanatorium employs 393 people, according to the social insurance fund SoDra.

"We are now sitting and thinking about what to do and how to live as a lot of people work at the sanatorium and we can't even pay them, although we have the money. We have turned to certain responsible institutions in Lithuania to allow us to pay salaries, unblock the accounts, and we are awaiting their response," Epifanov said.

The majority of employees have been on furlough since December 17 when the lockdown was tightened, he said.

The European Union imposed sanctions on the Belarusian regime for violence against protesters, as well as vote-rigging.

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