Study of politician’s bank account shows close ties to businesses

A study of a bank account owned by convicted former Environment Minister Villu Reiljan and his wife Anne Reiljan shows how important business is in politics in Estonia, writes Äripäev in its investigative journalism report.

Proof of this is Villu Reiljan’s 50th birthday that he celebrated in May 2003. The total amount of money paid to his special-purpose birthday bank account by well-wishers was 220,000 kroons or over 14,000 euros. Cash donations may have amounted to as similar amount.

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Estonian company fined for transporting illegals

Estonian road carrier AMK Grupp that has two trailer trucks was recently forced to pay 3,300 euros when its Estonian truck driver in September discovered three illegal aliens in its tent trailer, writes Postimees.

Although the truck driver promptly informed local authorities in Calais in France, the case was handled by British authorities who fined the company 3,300 euros, claiming that the company had not implemented proper measures to avoid illegal aliens entering the truck.

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Prisoners file compensation claims against the state

The recent ruling of the European Court of Human Rights which found that lack of prisoner space in Tallinn Prison amounts to inhuman treatment has triggered similar claims from several prisoners, writes Postimees.

Eleven inmates held in Tallinn Prison have now sued the Estonian state claiming compensation for their „inhuman treatment,” saying that the ratio of prison cells per prisoner is below the statutory limit.

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Men imprisoned for misleading investors

Harju County Court on May 30, 2014 sentenced four men to prison for misleading investors in a 12-million-euro investment project in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan.

Erik Piirsalu and Tõnis Haavel, both 43 will have to serve six months in prison and accomplices Harles Liiv, 41, and Šarunas Skyrius, 36, both three months. All four men were also handed suspended sentences to take effect after release from prison. The men will also have to pay back 11.8 million euros to 31 investors, ranging from 1,000 to 4 million euros per investor.

Read more from ERR

Two real estate developers imprisoned

In 2006, one of Estonia’s largest banks SEB lent almost 3 million euros to two Estonian real estate developers who promised to build an office building and parking lot in central Tallinn, but actually invested it in real estate in Spanish Costa del Sol, writes Äripäev.

The real estate businessmen in question were 42-year-old Kaido Kaljusaar and 41-year-old Andres Lauri. To be more believable for banks, they set up a company called Arco Kapital which sounded similar to the listed real estate developer Arco Vara.

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Information Board staff may have stolen money earmarked for foreign spies

Four employees of Information Board (Teabeamet), the Estonian foreign intelligence service, are suspected of embezzlement.

According to Eesti Päevaleht, the four have probably pocketed hundreds of thousands of euros that may have been earmarked for secret procurements or, more likely, funds aimed at paying to foreign spies.

Besides the corruption, thought to involve a few hundred thousand euros, two of the men were also charged with publishing state secrets.

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Black market in Estonia in continued decline

A drop in consumption of bootleg cigarettes and alcohol is continuing in Estonia.

According to data released by the Institute of Economic Research, 32 percent of smokers in 2012 bought contraband cigarettes, but that number dropped to 21 percent last year.

Illegal vodka’s market share has also dropped, to 20-23 percent in 2013, from 25 percent two years previously.

The percentage of the work force receiving pay under the table, meaning they pay little or no tax, also dropped, but only by 1 percentage point to 11 percent. The percentage of employees who received untaxed pay and also took home their entire pay untaxed stood at 19 percent.

The head of the institute, Marje Josing, said the decline of the black market comes on the account of those who only bought illegal goods some of the time. A fifth of the population still buys all of its cigarettes and or alcohol from illegal merchants.

Kaupo Reede or the Ministry of Economic Affairs, said the black market is cyclical – when the economy is growing and people have more money they tend to buy legal goods, and revert to cheaper alternatives when the economy is in trouble.

Source: ERR via Estonian Review

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