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2012.12.06 16:06

21 Lithuanian Customs officers detained on suspicion of corruption

LRT.lt2012.12.06 16:06

  The Customs Department says it's the largest-scale corruption case in the history of the Lithuanian Customs. Still, prosecutors are of the opinion that the number of suspects might increase.

The Customs Department says it's the largest-scale corruption case in the history of the Lithuanian Customs. Still, prosecutors are of the opinion that the number of suspects might increase. The detainees worked at the Medininkai checkpoint, where arrests resulted in throughput dropping to 6 trucks per hour on Wednesday, from the usual 25. Medininkai is the main checkpoint on the Lithuanian-Belarusian border handling around 600 trucks per day. It is usually manned by around 80 customs officers. Lithuanian Customs has received anonymous calls from drivers and business organizations, complaining that some of the officers collect 6-12 Euro fees for entering Lithuania, the money given along with the driver ID. In cases that officers would identify alleged violations, drivers had to pay bribes for going smoothly and swiftly through customs procedures. Customs say that around 300 Euro could be collected from drivers per day.   Soundbite (Lithuanian)    Antanas Sipavicius, CEO, Customs Department: The reality is that between knowing and getting evidence there is an interval. We might know a lot, but to get evidence in order to prosecute is a time-consuming and complicated work. Soundbite (Lithuanian)   Antanas Sipavicius, CEO, Customs Department: I recognize that this is a very serious problem. At the moment, a Working Group has been set up at the Customs Department. It will look into the measures to be used to remedy the existing situation. Soundbite (Lithuanian)   Giedrius Cicinas, Chief of Investigation Service, Customs Department: The object of investigation is if there was a distribution system or not. At this stage, we talk about individual officers, but we still can't eliminate there was a distribution system in function. Soundbite (Lithuanian)    Andrius Kubilius, Interim Prime Minister: The extent of misconduct certainly raises a wide spread concern. However, the fact that Customs, as an institution, along with its Investigation Service have identified misconduct I see as positive.

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