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Agriculture Minister Virginija Baltraitienė has accepted resignation of her deputy Vilius Martusevičius over alleged corruption in the ministry's food for poor programme.
Deputy agriculture minister steps down amidst suspected corruption in food-for-poor programme
© DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

"Accepting personal responsibility and realizing, that the situation is turning into an object of speculation, the vice-minister has decided to step down," the minister's spokeswoman Jolanda Butkevičienė told BNS.

The Prosecutor General's Office launched an investigation last week into suspected fraud in the food for poor programme managed by the Agriculture and Food Market Regulation Agency. Martusevičius was the agency's board chairman.

The Ministry of Agriculture has asked public procurement bodies to suspend the contracts.

The company Malsena Plius has been awarded the contract for the supply of flour at €600 per tonne, although the price on the market is about half the level.

Another company, Sanitex, was picked to supply canned meat and beans. According to media reports, the prices offered under the contract were twice those offered on the open market.

Moreover, the products supplied by Sanitex are produced by Kėdainių Konservų Fabrikas (Kėdainiai Canned Food Factory), a company linked to Viktor Uspaskich, the founder and assumed leader of the Labour Party whose member Virginija Baltraitienė heads the Ministry of Agriculture.

Her deputy Martusevičius was previously employed by Uspaskich's companies, something he has failed to mention in his official resume.

Vilius Martusevičius
Vilius Martusevičius

Minister Baltraitienė has said she was not aware that her deputy's former employer was the winner of the contract, adding that Martusevičius should have removed himself from decision making in order to avoid conflict of interests.

The head of the Agriculture and Food Market Regulation Agency, Aldona Miliuvienė, resigned from the post in January after media reported about the inflated prices of flour.

BNS
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