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Published: 20 february 2012 16:54

Lithuanian prosecutors open investigation into bank Snoras information leak

Irmanto Gelūno / 15min nuotr. / Snoras

Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office launched a pre-trial investigation into leaking classified information about bank Snoras, Rūta Dirsienė, head of the Public Relations Division of the prosecutor Generals Office, confirmed to BNS on Monday.

"The Prosecutor General's Office launched a pre-trial investigation into illegal disclosure of information about planned official actions that were part of an investigation into bank Snoras' activities. The pre-trial investigation into suspected misuse of official power was launched. The pre-trial investigation was opened after information from the State Security Department (SSD) on the results of an investigation requested by Prosecutor General Darius Valys on 17 November 2011 was received," the Office said in a statement which followed comments by President Dalia Grybauskaitė.

Last week, the Office told BNS no pre-trial investigation had been launched.

Lithuania's President Dalia Grybauskaitė accused the sacked chiefs of the Financial Crime Investigation Service (FCIS), Vitalijus Gailius and Vytautas Giržadas, of politicizing.

In her words, the agency's director Vitalijus Gailius and his deputy Vytautas Giržadas were dismissed for “not very good” performance in the State Security Department's investigation into information leak about Snoras bank.

In an interview to journalists in Grikiškės, Grybauskaitė said that the investigation was aimed at establishing whether the “officers lied” and “whether they are suitable to continue working with classified information,” adding that it “had nothing to do with criminal liability.”

"I do not see it as a struggle among officers in posts governed by service regulations, I see it as continuation of the investigation requested by the prosecutors and carried out by the State Security Department into leaking of Snoras' information. Unfortunately, performance of the two FCIS officers was not very good. Current politicizing of the officers is even worse. This is my assessment of the situation," Grybauskaitė told journalists on Monday.

She said “six officers who could have been part of the leak were tested and merely two of them did not do well."

In response to the public speculations, suggesting that the FCIS chiefs could have fallen out favor with Interior Minister Raimundas Palaitis of Liberal and Center Union for investigating the party's sponsors, Grybauskaitė said that journalists should better inquire if the agency probed in companies that sponsored the conservatives.

"The pre-trial investigation may and will be launched in order to assess criminal liability. The probe was carried out to find out whether the officers lied and whether they are suitable to continue working with classified information. This has nothing to do with criminal liability, which will be additionally established during a pre-trial investigation. I am convinced that's how it should be," said Grybauskaitė.

The President said she saw no undue conduct of the Interior Minister who signed the decrees dismissing the two FCIS chiefs.

Immediately before Snoras' nationalization last November, the daily Lietuvos Rytas cited anonymous sources, saying that “the Prosecutor General's Office has already issued warrants for searching one of the banks and houses of its owners.“ At the time, the daily did not specify the bank, saying it was a "Lithuanian bank."

Snoras owned more than one third of Lietuvos Rytas' shares.

In the end of 2011, Lithuanian prosecutors worked to identify people who illegally leaked information about state institutions' plans regarding Snoras.

In reply to an inquiry by MP Saulius Stoma in the end of January, the Prosecutor General's Office said that the article contained some statements that could be viewed as partially corresponding to their assessment of data from the Bank of Lithuania.

Prosecutors then said that "no proof had been given to indicate that the information contained in the article had been provided by public servants."

The two former FCIS chiefs categorically denied the possibility of them leaking the information about the planned actions. Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius has urged the law-enforcement to carry out a pre-trial investigation into the leak.

Last week, the Minister of Interior revoked Gailius and Giržadas' access to classified information and later sacked them. The steps were taken in response to a proposal from the State Security Department.

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