Tallink in the middle of scandal in Sweden over executive’s statement

The statement made by Vahur Ausmees, head of personnel and development in Tallink Group, in which he seemed to imply that it was women’s fault if they get drunk and are raped, has caused a major scandal in Sweden.

In an interview to TV4 Nyhetern on reports of rape on passenger ferries, Ausmees said that women should be aware that when they drink alcohol they could fall victims of a rape.

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Number of prisoners drops below 3,000

The number of people kept behind bars in Estonia has dropped below 3,000 for the first time since the restoration of independence in 1991, figures released by the Justice Ministry show.

As of  March10,2014, imprisoned persons numbered 2,980. The figure was 3,123 at the end of last year, 3,371 at the end of 2012, 4,410 in the middle of the last decade and 4,576 ten years ago.

The number continued decreasing in the first two months of this year, dropping to 2,980 by Monday. Of this number 2,442 are convicts and 538 detainees.

While the number of imprisoned persons has kept declining in Estonia mainly as a result of a drop in the number of detainees, it is still almost double the EU average, Jako Salla, adviser on criminal policy at the Justice Ministry, said in January. “In the EU only Latvia and Lithuania come ahead of Estonia when it comes to the number of imprisoned persons. To achieve the average level of the EU, we should have about 1,500 imprisoned persons,” he told reporters.

Source: BNS / Estonian Review

Number of card frauds lowest in Estonia

In Estonia the number of bank card frauds is the smallest within the Eurozone, it appears from a report published by the European Central Bank on  Feb.25.

In 2012 card fraud increased within the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) for the first time since 2008, driven mainly by higher internet fraud. In that year one euro in every 2,635 euros spent using credit and debit cards issued within SEPA was lost to fraud. Compared with 2011, the total value of fraud increased by 14.8 percent in 2012, reaching 1.33 billion euros.

In 2012 around 5,400 frauds in the amount of 900,000 euros were connected to cards issued in Estonia. Although the number of transactions connected to fraud in Estonia increased by 8 percent, the percentage of frauds of all card transactions remained at 0.002 percent. The number of frauds carried out with debit or credit cards issued in Estonia is the smallest among Eurozone countries, spokespeople for the Bank of Estonia said.

Four in every 1,000 Estonians fell prey to card frauds and the average loss was about 160 euros. In SEPA 17 fraud cases for every 1,000 residents were registered while the highest number of frauds was recorded in France — 46 for every 1,000 residents.

In Estonia the biggest number of card frauds or 43 percent of all cases took place in ATMs.

Estonians have on average 1.3 bank cards per resident while in Europe the number is 1.4 cards per resident. In Estonia on average 189 card transactions are made per resident while in Europe the number is 103.

Source: Estonian Review / BNS

Enterprise Estonia has reclaimed 0,7 pct of the support money

Enterprise Estonia (EAS) has in the last seven years reclaimed 6.4 million euros of grant money which makes up 0.7 percent of the support paid out during the same period.

“In the 2007-2013 period EAS satisfied support applications in the amount of 874 million euros and recalled grants in the amount of 6.4 million euros. For the whole period reclaimed grants make up 0.7 percent of the disbursed support and implemented activities,” EAS board member Taavi Laur said.

Last year the business support agency made 151 grant recall decisions in the amount of 2.7 million euros which cover both support schemes and programs, i.e. the entire activity of EAS, Laur said.

“The nearer the end of the period, the more recalls there are. This is natural, because at the beginning of the period the amounts were smaller in terms of both grants and auditing,” Laur said. The administration and control system of EAS received the highest evaluation without a single reservation in the course of the recent system audit, which means that it meets the principal requirements, he added.

Established in 2000, EAS promotes business and regional policy in Estonia and is one of the largest institutions within the national support system for entrepreneurship. After Estonia joined the European Union EAS became one of the final beneficiaries of EU structural funds in Estonia.

Source: Estonian Review

Former project manager of RIMI suspected of major bribery

Central criminal police is suspecting Tiit Elias, former project manager of supermarket chain RIMI, of having received more than 600,000 euros in bribe, reports Postimees.

Elias who worked for five years as project manager of RIMI was handling procurement for real estate developments of RIMI in Estonia.

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Catering company Eesti Eine again suspected of foul play

The anti-corruption unit of the police has opened an investigation into claims that catering company Eesti Eine had violated the procurement terms when signing a procurement contract with Maritime Academy, writes Äripäev.

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Fitness club loses music royalties case

In a decision that sets an intellectual property rights precedent, all fitness clubs in Estonia will have to pay the country’s SCAPR affiliate licensing fees for the copyrighted music they play in their training halls.

Yet under the decision, the club will have to pay about 3,000 euros in fees and late interest.

In light of the decision, all sports clubs that play recorded music will have to sign agreements with the Performers Association, otherwise the music over the loudspeakers is illegal. The same applies to dance instructors who rent space and operate companies.

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Estonia wants to be among world’s least corrupt countries

At the high-level conference of the Open Government Partnership taking place in London, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet said that modern information and communication technologies help to prevent corruption and make the fight against corruption more effective. “Estonia wants to among the world’s least corrupt countries and the use of IT solutions is necessary to accomplish that,” said Paet.

According to the foreign minister, the success of Estonia’s e-solutions demonstrates how technology can be used to improve society. At the meeting, Paet introduced Estonia’s e-services, which have been in use for more than 10 years, as well as the plan to make them more user-centred in the future. “In the last 10 years, 130 million digital signatures have been given in Estonia. This is a remarkable amount when taking into account that Estonia’s population is 1.3 million,” stated Paet, highlighting a successfully functioning e-solution.

“Our e-government, e-tax board, and e-police are also irreplaceable in reducing corruption and raising the effectiveness of state governance. We are ready to share our experiences with e-governance with other states in order to support the development of open societies,” declared Paet.

At the same time, Paet says that Estonia also considers the role and involvement of non-governmental organizations to be important for the implementation of the principles of open government. “It is important that non-governmental organizations such as the Open Government Roundtable, the Open Estonia Foundation, and the e-Governance Academy have shown considerable initiative in this process,” stated the foreign minister.

The Open Government Partnership conference will also feature the Bright Spots Competition, where the Estonian People’s Assembly has made it to the list of top seven success stories. The People’s Assembly initiative will be introduced at the competition by Urmo Kübar, the Executive Director of the Network of Estonian Nonprofit Organizations. After all the reports are heard, the audience decides which of the seven initiatives is the most inspirational.

More info about the Bright Spots Competition: http://www.opengovpartnership.org/blog/linda-frey/2013/10/22/get-ideas-g

More info about the London conference: http://www.opengovpartnership.org/get-involved/london-summit-2013

Source: Estonian Review

Estonian state to combat VAT fraud

Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi yesterday introduced new steps in combating VAT fraud.

Ligi said that the state lost EUR 222 million last year alone in VAT fraud.

Under the new system, the tax authority will require a report on domestic bank transfer that exceeds 1,000 euros as part of the regular VAT report.

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Latvia is EU’s newest tax haven?

German magazine Der Spiegel writes that Latvia could become the European Union’s “newest tax haven and further destabilize the European economy”.

“Latvia will become the euro area’s newest member in January 2014, the same time that new tax laws will go into effect allowing the country to compete with the likes of Cyprus and Malta. This could further destabilize the European economy,” reports the newspaper.

According to Der Spiegel, Latvia’s corporate tax rate is just 15%, far lower than the EU average of 23.5%. Within the euro zone, only Ireland and Cyprus, each at 12.5%, have lower rates.

However, the latest data from the EU’s statistical office Eurostat indicate that the lowest corporate tax rate is in Bulgaria and Cyprus – 10%, followed by Ireland – 12.5%. Latvia and Lithuania have the third lowest corporate tax rate – 15%.

Der Spiegel also points out that holding companies – firms that hold stock of other companies – enjoy further benefits in Latvia. Since the beginning of 2013, their foreign profits earned via dividends and stock sales have been tax free. Transferring such profits out of country is also not taxed. Furthermore, as of 2014 Latvian holding companies will no longer have to pay taxes on interest and licensing fees they pay to foreign companies.

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