Prosecutors say that plans by Bionovus, an Icor-controlled biofuel supplier, to merge with its Estonian-registered owner and cease operations will have no impact on their investigation into the company's deals, but some lawyers say that this would make it more difficult to gather documents needed for the probe.
Biokuras
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Conservative MP Kęstutis Masiulis believes that Bionovus' move may mean that the company will try to avoid fines, saying that this reminds him of the Labour Party's fraudulent bookkeeping case, which was dropped after the party's reorganization.

Elena Martinonienė, head of communications at the Lithuanian Prosecutor General's Office, told BNS that the change of the legal entity will have no impact on the course of the case.

"In the prosecutor's opinion, the change of Bionovus as a legal entity will not affect the investigation in any way. It (the investigation) will continue," Martinonienė told BNS.

Suspicions of non-transparent practices by Bionovus are being investigated as part of the so-called Vilniaus Energija (Vilnius Energy) case, she added.

Some lawyers interviewed by BNS said that the Lithuanian company's re-registration in a foreign country would not allow it to avoid liability, because the foreign-registered company would take over all of its obligations and responsibilities. However, it would be more difficult for the authorities to gather documents or perform searches if the probe were to be continued.

Masiulis thinks that Icor will do all they can to avoid fines and liability on the pretext of allegedly poor business conditions in Lithuania.

Icor's heads have a good knowledge of law and public relations and can justify their decisions as inevitable, the lawmaker said.

"They will certainly try to do something to avoid fines and get away with it. I think that given their knowledge of public relations, they (Bionovus) will say that they not have the right conditions here in Lithuania and that they need better conditions, and that they are looking for better options," he said.

Prosecutors suspect that Vilniaus Energija's top executives made it possible for Bionovus, an associated company, to profit from the sale of biofuel. It is suspected that Bionovus between 2007 and 2011 made a net profit of more than 15 million euros from biofuel sales alone.

The Lithuanian Competition Council is also looking into deals between the two companies. The completion watchdog has said recently that Vilniaus Energija contracted to purchase biofuel solely from Bionovus.

Bionovus has already changed its name to 'Pirmoji Galimybė', which is the Lithuanian for 'First Opportunity', the name of the Estonian-registered company into which it will be integrated.

First Opportunity is owned by Icor's owner, the holding and investment company Lag&d. The latter company is 100 percent owned by Estonia's Global Energy Consulting, which has three shareholders: Andrius Janukonis, Gintautas Jaugielavičius and Linas Samuolis.

The Labour Party in 2013 merger with the daughter Labourist Party to form a new legal entity. Following the reorganization, the fraudulent bookkeeping case against the party was discontinued, although its leaders were convicted of fraud.

BNS
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