Arrest warrant issued for Baltic fund manager suspected of misappropriating $29 million

VILNIUS (Reuters) - A Lithuanian court has issued an arrest warrant for a former fund partner suspected of misappropriating 27 million euros ($29.4 million), the European Public Prosecutor's Office said on Friday.

The independent public prosecution office of the European Union that deals with cases affecting the bloc's financial interests said Sarunas Stepukonis, the former partner of the 80 million euro BaltCap Infrastructure Fund at Estonian-registered BaltCap, has been hiding from authorities.

It did not detail the charges.

The Vilnius District Court could not be reached outside office hours.

Companies owned by BaltCap, the Baltics' largest private equity fund manager, have asked a Vilnius court to order Stepukonis and two casinos to return 16.7 million euros ($18 million) allegedly misappropriated by him.

Simonas Gustainis, managing partner at BaltCap, said on Monday he believed the "protection and warning systems" against money laundering and "pathological gambling tendencies" provided under the law had failed at the casinos.

Lithuania-registered Casino Olympic Group Baltija, one of the two gambling companies challenged in the lawsuit, told Reuters by email on Monday it "adheres to the highest standards of compliance with legal requirements".

Estonia-registered OB Holdings 1, the other gambling operator named in the lawsuit, did not respond to a Reuters query on Monday.

($1 = 0.9189 euros)

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)