Investigation: BMZ sells products to Lithuania for €200 million per year, but the plant itself is deeply in debt

Photo: LRT Research department
6 mins

На русском языке: Расследование: БМЗ продает в Литву продукцию на €200 млн в год, но сам завод погряз в долгах
На беларускай мове: Расследаванне: БМЗ прадае ў Літву прадукцыю на €200 млн у год, але сам завод заграз у даўгах

Lithuanian TV channel LRT has released an investigation into BMZ’s subsidiary BMZ-Baltija, which operates in Siauliai, Lithuania. According to the publication, the Lithuanian department of BMZ is engaged in the wholesale of Belarusian metal products to the Baltic States, Scandinavia and Western Europe. The Europeans have not imposed sanctions against the plant, and Lithuania, which has granted political asylum to its former employees, ranks second in imports of BMZ products, overtaking only Russia.

BMZ is a debtor. Where do millions of euros from exports go?

BMZ products come to the Baltic States through the BMZ-Baltia enterprise, which employs only 12 employees and no production, but sales volume amounts to several hundred million euros per year. More than half of the supplies from BMZ accounted for the European market.

In 2020, the income of the Lithuanian subsidiary of BMZ amounted to € 174 million. 2018 and 2019 were even more successful for the company – revenue amounted to almost 250 million euros. It is not clear what this money went to, whether the enterprise got it in Belarus. After all, while the Lithuanian division of BMZ has hundreds of millions of cash flow, the plant in Belarus is experiencing financial difficulties. Lukashenko has repeatedly saved the so-called «national treasure» from bankruptcy. The company’s debt is 2.2 billion. rub.

Perhaps sales are conducted according to the classic scheme of ‘Trading Houses’ abroad, and the money lines on the pockets of businessmen close to Lukashenko’s family.

BMZ-Baltia employs a member of the Sejm and an official from Bobruisk

 LRT found that BMZ-Baltija employs only 12 people with an average salary of €3,384. Yuri Hilinsky, the former head of the administration of the Pervomaisky district of Bobruisk, is the sales manager of the company.

Arturas Gavedas, the head of BMZ-Baltija, in a conversation with reporters said that he invited Hilinsky as a highly qualified employee versed in metallurgy. Actually, the only job related to metallurgy Hilinsky had was at the beginning of his career — when he worked as a turner, process engineer in the production of elevators in Mogilev. Hilinsky declined to comment on his duties in Lithuania.

It is also noteworthy that one of the founders of BMZ-Baltija was Andrus Shejus, a former member of the Lithuanian Sejm, who sold his stake in the company.

Shejus himself, speaking to reporters, said that he abandoned this business when he became a member of the Sejm in 2008. However, journalists found out that this was not the case and he was a member of the board of BMZ-Baltija from the moment of its foundation until 2012. It was at that time that he was also a member of the Sejm of Lithuania.

1000 employees were fired, 3 were sentenced. No sanctions

In 2020, a peaceful strike was forcibly suppressed at BMZ, and dozens of employees were forced to flee the country.

Lithuania granted asylum to more than 35 ex-employees of the enterprise, who in 2020 participated in strikes, but were forced to leave Belarus due to repression, including the leader of the Independent Trade Union of BMZ, who fled from criminal prosecution.

The strikes at the BMZ were dispersed with the help of OMON [special police unit – ed.], three employees of the enterprise were sentenced to 2.5-3 years in prison. According to the publication, after the strikes of 2020, about 1,000 employees were dismissed from the BMZ or left of their own volition.

And in May 2021, the company’s management collected signatures of employees on the open letter against Western sanctions.

Despite all this, BMZ manages to evade US and EU sanctions, although many Lithuanian businesses without any sanctions refused to cooperate with the enterprise, condemning the violation of human rights at the plant, Swedish Scandia Steel in particular .

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