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Last Updated: Wednesday, 30 August 2006, 18:46 GMT 19:46 UK
Lithuania seeks minister's arrest
Victor Uspaskich
Uspaskich resigned as economy minister in 2005
Lithuania has issued an arrest warrant for the country's former Economy Minister, Victor Uspaskich.

He is suspected of fraud in managing his party finances and of trying to mislead tax authorities.

Mr Uspaskich, who denies the accusations, recently quit as leader of the Labour Party - the largest grouping in parliament.

He has been living in Russia since May. After his move his party's offices in the capital Vilnius were searched.

Mr Uspaskich is one of Lithuania's best-known businessmen, and was, until recently, one of its most influential politicians, the BBC's Laura Sheeter reports.

He is said to have made his fortune in pickled vegetables, before entering politics with almost immediate success.

Premises raided

Russian-born Mr Uspaskich became Lithuanian economy minister after the newly founded Labour Party won the 2004 elections.

However, a series of scandals soon tarnished his reputation and forced him to resign first as economy minister, and then to leave parliament altogether.

The latest scandal broke in May, when state police raided Mr Uspaskich's home and office, while he was in Russia.

Since then he has not returned to Lithuania, despite several summonses by the Lithuanian prosecutor for him to do so.

Prosecutors said they would be seeking Mr Uspaskich's extradition from Russia as soon as possible.

If he were to be found guilty of the charges, he could face up to four years in prison.




SEE ALSO
Lithuanian government collapses
31 May 06 |  Europe
Country profile: Lithuania
25 Jul 06 |  Country profiles

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