The recommendation follows a report by the Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT on Thursday, stating that Agrokoncernas, a business group owned by Ramūnas Karbauskis, leader of the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union, imports fertilizer from Russia company Minudobreniya via an intermediary, despite Minudobreniya's key shareholder Arkady Rotenberg being subject to international sanctions.
Rasa Jakilaitienė, spokeswoman for the foreign minister, told BNS Lithuania on Thursday that "the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recommends Lithuanian companies to assess risks associated with the existing sanctions against the owner and refrain from business ties."
LRT reports that Agrokoncernas is buying fertilizers from Russia's Minudobreniya via a Dubai company. Rotenberg owns over 80 percent of the Russian company and has been subject to international sanctions since 2014 due to his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin, although Minudobreniya itself is not on the sanction list.
The existing sanctions against natural persons ban them from coming to the EU and their assets are frozen. But there's no ban to work with their businesses directly, unless specific companies are put on the sanction list.
Aurelija Katkuvienė, spokeswoman for the State Security Department, told BNS Lithuania the department has been publicly reminding for many years that "business ties with Russia increase the risk to get into the traps of hostile intelligence services."
"So our public recommendation is to pay attention, assess risks and take responsibility," she said, without disclosing whether Lithuania's intelligence has warned Agrokoncernas directly against cooperation with Rotenberg's business.
Agrokoncernas admits that although Minudobreniya's fertilizers are bought in Dubai, they are not brought to Lithuania from there. The company does not disclose which country it imports them from.
Karbauskis says agroculturalists working for Agrokoncernas cannot know all shareholders. Agrokoncernas says it does not violate any laws by importing fertilizers from Rotenberg's Minudobreniya.