The Lithuanian Basketball Federation Secretary General, Mindaugas Balciunas, has been arrested on embezzlement charges related to the 2011 Eurobasket championships. It has caused a shock within the Lithuanian Basketball community.
Lithuanian Basketball Federation general secretary Mindaugas Balciunas and two of his assistants are being held on charges of misusing budget funds intended to refurbish a hotel for the European basketball championships, local newspaper Lietuvos Rytas has reported.
Prosecutors allege part of the $767,500 in local government funds for the hotel in the city of Panevezys was embezzled and false documents filed.
Federation president Arvidas Sabonis reacted in shock and anger:
“He’s a father of two children, a family man, and now they’ve arrested him like a drug dealer,”
he said in comments reported by Lietuvos Rytas on Thursday.
“Mindaugas devoted himself fanatically to basketball.”
Sabonis said the contract in question had been transparent.
“The charges brought against Balciunas shocked us because the LBF’s contract with the municipality was not signed in secret. It was considered by the city council, all the city politicians, the municipality’s lawyers examined it, it was put to the vote,”
Eurobasket 2011 was the largest sporting event Lithuania has ever hosted, with matches in six cities including Panevezys. Spain won the tournament, beating France 98-85 in the final.