Under Lithuania's Criminal Code, a violation of international sanctions that causes major damage to the country's interests is punishable by a fine or by arrest or by up to five years of imprisonment.
The probe was launched after the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry turned to the Prosecutor General's Office over a report by the business daily Verslo Žinios that several Lithuanian companies present in Crimea were having difficulties due to the EU sanctions.
The companies named in the report include Hanner, a major Lithuanian property developer, as well as Pluošto Linija, a Crimea-registered firm owned by Vytautas Laurutis and Panevėžys-based Pluošto Linija, and BT Invest, a firm owned by Raimondas Tumėnas.
The investigation into possible violations of sanctions will be conducted by the Lithuanian Financial Crime Investigation Service, the spokeswoman said.
The EU imposed sanctions against Russia in 2014 in response to the country's annexation of Crimea and its support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.
The sanctions ban the import of products originating in Crimea or Sevastopol into the EU.
Also, EU nationals and companies are prohibited from investing in Crimea and Sevastopol, including buying real estate in the peninsula and financing Crimean companies, as well as providing tourism services and supplying certain goods and technologies for use in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors.
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