Prosecutors have announced that they are discontinuing an investigation into alleged tax evasion by shareholders of VP Group, one of the biggest companies in Lithuania that owns several shopping malls and the Maxima supermarket chain.
The investigation focused on whether certain reorganization decisions within the group might not have been motivated by efforts to avoid paying taxes.
Having evaluated data gathered by Financial Crime Investigation Service, and the conclusions drawn by the State Tax Inspectorate, the Department of the Organized Crime and Corruption found no evidence of VP Group shareholders committing fraud in the tax domain. The prosecutors did not find any evidence of legalization of criminal assets, therefore they said they made a decision to dismiss the investigation.
The pre-trial investigation was initiated in 2015 when the information about alleged attempts by VP Group to avoid income tax went public. The information about VP Group's attempt to legalize property rights for the acquired funds by avoiding the tax went public too.
However, the investigators said they did not find that by executing the reorganization of the enterprises VP Group was trying to avoid paying taxes.
The State Tax Inspectorate did not find any tax violations either.
The investigation demonstrated that all decisions on separation or connection of the enterprises were adopted by unanimous consent of the shareholders. There are no data available to support the allegations that shareholders had been given false information in order to influence their vote, the prosecutors said.
"During the pre-trial investigation all the necessary actions were conducted, the circumstances investigated and the data gathered. This allows to make a conclusion that no actions had characteristics of a crime," concludes the August 19 resolution that announces the termination of pre-trial investigation.
Pre-trial investigation was carried out by the officers of Financial Crime Investigation Service and were led by the prosecutor of the Department of the Organized Crime and Corruption.
"Since the very beginning of the inquiry, we emphasized that we trust the professionalism and objectivity of public institutions. We understand that the government must react to charges of tax evasion raised by one of the shareholders, and that is the reason why investigation was initiated.
Decision of the Prosecutor General once again confirms that VP and its subsidiaries have never carried out any tax evasion.
We hope that the Prosecutor General's decision will be a positive boost for both VP reputation and compensation for Akropolis sales deal delay lawsuits, as well as other cases,” Raimonda Kižienė, director of Vilniaus Prekyba, says.
Lawyer Olga Petroševičienė, who is representing the main shareholder of VP Group, Nerijus Numavičius, has called the allegations a defamation campaign initiated by another shareholder, Mindaugas Marcinkevičius.
Meanwhile Mindaugas Marcinkevičius says he is surprised that the investigation was dismissed.
“It is surprising that the investigation was stopped without even questioning Nerijus Numavičius and other shareholders. I do not understand why the Prosecutor's Office said that the State Tax Inspectorate has not found violations, when the State Tax Inspectorate has publicly stated that the probe is not yet complete.
"As far as I know, the Prosecutor's Office and the Financial Crime Investigation Service did not ask for independent experts’ assistance. I am looking forward to prosecutors presenting the documents supporting their decision to stop the investigation," says Mindaugas Marcinkevičius.