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VILNIUS – Lithuania’s Minister of Justice Milda Vainiute resigned on Tuesday following an obscure audit process at the Prison Department controlled by the ministry, and revelation of opaque public procurement cases at the department.
“I submitted my resignation statement to the prime minister. The reforms have started, I hope the new minister will continue to implement them,” Vainiute was quoted as speaking to reporters by local media.
Vainiute insisted she was not pressured by the prime minister and resigned on her own accord.
The stepping down of the minister follows events at the ministry earlier in February when the chief specialist of the ministry’s internal audit division accused deputy minister of justice Raimondas Baksys of hindering and stalling the audit process at the prison department.
Baksys denied the accusations but resigned this Monday, claiming inability to work “under current conditions”.
Among the findings of the ministry’s auditors, opaque public procurement processes at the imprisonment institutions were reported by local media, including cases when services were bought from companies with corrupt background. The audit has not been completed yet and its revelations have not been officially announced so far.
Meanwhile, Lithuania’s Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis stressed that he does not have information about Vainiute’s direct involvement in alleged opaque activities in the ministry or its departments.
“I understand and respect decision of the minister in the current situation. I am grateful for the work she has done and for starting fundamental reforms which were not implemented for long years,” Skvernelis was quoted as saying in a statement released on Tuesday by the government.
In his word, the new leadership of the ministry will face even “higher requirements” concerning “combatting corruption, protectionism and other malicious activities”.
The resigned justice minister was criticized by Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite, who said Vainiute could not control the situation at the ministry and ensure its smooth operation.