Published: 20 june 2012 17:22
BNS

Bribery scandal at Ignalina nuclear plant might threaten further EU funding

Neilas Tamkevičius, Lithuanian government's negotiator with the European Commission, fears that reports on alleged bribes at Ignalina nuclear power plant may endanger further EU funding for the plant's decommissioning. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, meanwhile says the scandal is a thing from the past that has nothing to do with Ignalina's current management.
Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant
Irmanto Gelūno/15min.lt nuotr. / Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant

"Evaluating Ignalina's decommissioning process, EU partners want EU money to be used as effectively and economically as possible," Tamkevičius said at a discussion at the Seimas European Information Office on Wednesday.

"If there are suspicions that something is not right about the project, of course, doubts are raised as to whether more money should be allocated. This is how the Ignalina funding is evaluated," Tankevičius said when asked whether reports on alleged corruption at Ignalina nuclear facility could influence EU officials' attitude.

"The recent reports are a matter for law enforcement to settle and they should be addressed," he said.

On Tuesday, Lithuania's Prosecutor General's Office launched a pre-trial investigation into alleged corruption and misuse of power at the country's Ignalina nuclear power plant.

The investigation followed a US court order earlier this week and reports that US company Data Systems & Solutions had paid bribes to the plant's officials to receive orders.

The US Justice Department said on Monday that Data Systems & Solutions paid bribes to officials employed at the INPP to secure contracts to perform services for the plant.

Lithuanian prosecutor are also carrying out a separate investigation that was started following a request by the nuclear plant's subsequent administration regarding allegedly non-transparent and ineffective use of funds for the facility's decommissioning in 2003-2009.

Thing of the past

The corruption scandal at Ignalina nuclear power plant is a pathetic thing coming from the past that the present management of the facility has nothing to do with, Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius told journalists on Wednesday.

"Facts came to light that the former Ignalina plant management, lead by Mr. Sevaldinas, as the American investigation shows, allegedly acted non-transparently. It's a pathetic thing coming from the past. This is why the management was replaced in 2009-2010 for these things not to happen again," Kubilius said.

The prime minister also criticized the country's law enforcement.

"I would like to note that our law enforcement has to investigate such things and prevent them before any American investigation," he said.

The Lithuanian prime minister said that consequences of former Ignalina head Viktor Sevaldin's actions would be felt in other areas as well, first of all, in projects related to Ignalina's decommissioning.

"Actions of Ignalina nuclear power plant's previous management or their consequences will also cause problems for us in other things. I mean agreements with Nukem company, signed under Sevaldin's management," Kubilius said.

Lithuanian prosecutor are also carrying out a separate investigation that was started following a request by the nuclear plant's subsequent administration regarding allegedly non-transparent and ineffective use of funds for the facility's decommissioning in 2003-2009.

Lithuania 's government has recently criticized the European Commission's proposal on further funding of Ignalina's decommissioning. Having allocated EUR 1.37 billion until 2013, the EC wants to give another EUR 210 million, at least three times less than Lithuania is asking.

Asked whether the corruption scandal would not undermine Lithuania's position in the negotiations, Kubilius expressed hope that the EU would appreciate Lithuania's progress.

"Ignalina's closure is a common EU-Lithuanian matter. Spending issues are solved together, and the fact that Lithuania has made decisions on the replacement of the plant's management and has done everything in a more transparent way, I think, is an important progress that will be appreciated by our partners as well," the Lithuanian prime minister said.

Lithuania closed Ignalina nuclear facility on 31 December 2009 as part of the deal un EU accession

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