Lithuania Inspecting Company Suspected of Violating EU Sanctions

Published: 26 April 2024

VILPRA 1 1The Lithuanian firm UAB Vilpra is suspected of sending air condition units to Belarus, despite EU sanctions. (Photo: Andriaus Švitra,

By Šarūnas Černiauskas

Lithuanian authorities are inspecting a company owned by the family of a prominent presidential candidate, after media reports suggesting the firm may have violated European Union sanctions against exports to Belarus.

The Lithuanian firm UAB Vilpra is owned by the family of Ignas Vėgėlė, a lawyer and frontrunner in the election scheduled for next month. The company appears to have sent air condition units to Kyrgyzstan.

However, the real destination is likely to be Belarus, a country under EU sanctions, according to a report on Wednesday by OCCRP’s Lithuanian and Belarussian member centers, Siena and Buro Media, in collaboration with independent Lithuanian TV station Laisvės TV.

The day after the story was published, the Lithuanian Customs Department said it was looking into the matter.

“An inspection of the mentioned company’s commercial activity, accounting and financial reporting is being conducted in relation to the application of customs regulations,” the department said in an emailed response to questions. “It is also being checked if the sanctions were complied with.”

Vilpra rejected suggestions that its exports to Kyrgyzstan intentionally ended up in Belarus.

“Vilpra is not involved in any trade neither with Russia nor with Belarus, [it] was always and is currently complying with sanctions,” said Martynas Vėgėlė, the CEO and brother of presidential candidate Ignas Vėgėlė.

Air conditioners are among items that EU companies are prohibited from selling to Belarus, and Vilpra did not engage in direct exports. Instead, leaked company data obtained by Siena shows that Vilpra exported 940,000 euros worth of air conditioning units to Kyrgyzstan in the six months directly after sanctions were imposed on Belarus.

Kyrgyzstan is a key staging point for companies shipping sanctioned items to Belarus and Russia, previous reporting has shown. Trade data shows that exports of air conditioners from Lithuania to Kyrgyzstan spiked dramatically immediately after sanctions were imposed in June 2022.

From January 2021 to March 2022, Lithuania sent only 4,184 euros worth of air conditioners to Kyrgyzstan, according to Eurostat trade data. In the six months following EU sanctions, the value of air conditioning unit exports shot up to 2.3 million euros.

The company data obtained by reporters shows that Vilpra exported air conditioners to two Kyrgyz companies, Service Pack LCD and Mavic Expert. Both companies listed fake addresses on their registration documents, including an office building in the capital, Bishkek, that is still under construction.

The Kyrgyz companies are also principal suppliers to Custom Service, a Belarusian company that Buro Media recently reported was moving European cars into Russian in violation of EU sanctions.

In his email, Martynas Vėgėlė accused journalists of attempting to undermine his brother’s political prospects.

“We understand that your exceptional attention to our company and a particular group of goods, given the planned time of publication, is entirely related to political processes,” said Martynas, who has donated, along with his parents, a total of 40,000 euros to the presidential campaign.