Gennady Konoplyov, considered one of the wealthiest businessmen in Lithuania, committed suicide on June 23 after audit and law enforcement agencies had found evidence of massive fraud in his banking operations. Konoplyov was the founding president of the Tauras Bank and also chaired Lithuanian Enterprises, a conglomerate of some 70 firms linked to Tauras. In 1995 the former government of Adolfas Slezevicius and former Bank of Lithuania managers designated Tauras to receive European Union and International Monetary Fund soft credits guaranteed by the Lithuanian government. The funds were to have been channeled to Lithuania’s private sector for investment purposes. However, the bank became insolvent and was forced to cease operations last week. The audit found that part of the Western credits had been misappropriated, defrauding even firms of the conglomerate linked to Tauras.
In his suicide note, printed in yesterday’s issue of Lietuvos Ritas, Konoplyov accused the Lithuanian authorities of engineering the bank’s bankruptcy and "terrorizing" him personally. President Algirdas Brazauskas stated yesterday that the affair was the "tragedy of one man and one bank" and in no way a reflection of the Lithuanian economy. (BNS, international agencies, June 24) The Slezevicius government and the Democratic Labor Party were rocked and eventually brought down last year by a series of banking scandals generally stemming from official favoritism to privileged business circles.
Lukashenka Amasses More Power.