The central Bank of Lithuania has ordered Paysera to provide related information as Sarunas Stepukonis, a former partner at BaltCap Infrastructure Fund, an fund managed by BaltCap, an investment company, who suspected of having gambled away in casinos at least 27 million euros from the fund’s companies, as the money went trough Paysera.
“The Bank of Lithuania has contacted the electronic money institution Paysera LT and instructed it to provide all information related to the possible theft from BaltCap, which is supervised by the Estonian regulator. Upon receipt of Paysera LT’s reply, further action against the institution will be assessed,” the central bank told BNS.
This information is expected by mid-February, according to information available to BNS.
In an interview with BNS last week, Simonas Gustainis, a managing partner at BaltCap, confirmed that the money embezzled by Stepukonis had moved through Paysera’s accounts.
Jekaterina Govina, a fintech expert and former director of the Bank of Lithuania’s Financial Market Supervision Service, says the central bank overseeing the fintech sector could not have prevented the misappropriation of funds on such a scale.
She points out that the Bank of Lithuania supervises how financial institutions implement the requirements to prevent money laundering or other financial crimes, while specific crimes are investigated by the Financial Crime Investigation Service.
“It is not that the Bank of Lithuania logs in and sees all transactions. (…) The Bank of Lithuania can approach a financial institution and ask for, for example, twenty customer files to look at transactions, whether preventive measures were implemented, whether information was requested to substantiate some transactions. The Bank of Lithuania does not and cannot monitor this online because millions of transactions take place every month,” Govina told BNS.
Approached by BNS last week, the FCIS, which is conducting a pre-trial investigation into the possible misappropriation of assets by Stepukonis in Lithuania, refrained to provide any information on the matter.
Supervising the investigation, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office said on Friday that Stepukonis, whose whereabouts are currently unknown, had been identified as a suspect in the case of embezzlement of at least 27 million. An international search for him has been launched.
Three companies managed by BaltCap Infrastructure Fund have filed a lawsuit against Stepukonis, Olympic Casino Group Baltija and its Estonian shareholder OB Holding 1 and are seeeking to recover 16.6 million euros worth of electronic money held in the accounts of Stepukonis and Paysera or in Stepukonis’ accounts with the gambling companies involved.
However, if the court does not uphold this claim, the companies are demanding joint damages of the same value from Stepukonis and Olympic Casino Group Baltija, up to 3.5 million euros, and are also jointly demanding up to 26.05 million from Stepukonis and OB Holding 1, the court told BNS earlier.
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