Money laundering to be hung out to dry

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
Jul 08, 1999
By Kairi Kurm

All shady transactions exceeding 100,000 kroons ($7,143) in cash and 200,000 kroons in noncash are being checked by the police since July 1.

The Estonian government established an anti-laundering data bureau after the money-laundering prevention act came into force at the beginning of this month.

According to the law, the anti- laundering bureau can stop transactions for 48 hours in order to receive an approval from court to confiscate shady assets.

“Forty-eight hours is a short time of course, but the international money-laundering convention, which was signed on July 2 will help in this matter,” said Arnold Tenusaar, head of the anti- laundering bureau.

Latvia and Lithuania have already merged with the international convention, which obliges them to fight against depositing and investing money which comes from illegal trading with weapons and drugs, terrorism and bogus trading.

“Until July 1 money-laundering was not a crime in Estonia, ” said Tenusaar. He said that there have been a few laundering cases in Estonia and these have mostly been related to international cases that Interpol has been dealing with.

“According to the new law all financial and credit institutions are obliged to identify clients dealing with over a certain amount of money. Sometimes there are several smaller transactions related to each other which have to be checked,” said Tenusaar.

Insurance and gambling are two of the most popular ways to launder money, according to Tenusaar.” Money comes in one way and is paid out the other way. Transactions exceeding 35,000 kroons, which are related to insurance, have to be analyzed.”.

Tenusaar will run the bureau, which employs two policemen and a banking specialist. The supervisory body of the central bank will also take care of money-laundering prevention.


Hansapank changes interest calculation

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
Jul 08, 1999
By Kairi Kurm

Hansapank made some changes to the calculation of interest revenue, which is more favorable to the bank as well as the smaller clients of Hansapank.

According to the new order, Hansapank pays one-percent interest revenue a year on the average balance of the monthly account since July 1. Until the changes went into force, Hansapank paid 3 percent on the minimum balance of the account per month, if the sum exceeded 1000 kroons ($ 67).

Interest revenue is paid out once in a quarter. With the changes in the interest calculation, Hansapank starts paying out interest on all sums of money, which according to Raul Parusk, head of the retail department of Hansapank, is good news for most of the clients of Hansapank.

“Seventy percent of our clients did not receive interest when the minimum level was 1000 kroons. Those clients, who spent most of their payroll bank account win from the new order and those, who did not spend their money much and had a high minimum level on the account, will lose with the new changes,” said Parusk.

Hansapank will definitely win from the new rules, as the 3 percent rate from the minimum balance is actually equal to 1.49 percent from the average balance. Parusk said that Hansapank had to decrease the interest rate level due to the general decrease of interest levels in Estonia.

Interest rates have decreased substantially in Estonia during the last year. The interest rate for a term deposit in Hansapank has decreased from 13 percent in autumn to 7 percent. Interest on loan has decreased from 17 percent to 12 percent during the same period, said Parusk.

Uhispank, second biggest bank after Hansapank, has the same interest calculation system as Hansapank had before the changes on July 1.


A new verse in the Song Festival

The Baltic Times, TALLINN
Jul 08, 1999
By Kairi Kurm

About every 10th Estonian took part in the 23rd Estonian Song Festival on July 3 and 4. Song festivals only come around every five years so few wanted to miss this.

Every Song Festival must have a dance festival. When 7,000 dancers turned the stage into a map of Estonia the stage seemed almost as crowded and packed as the stadium’s 11,000 seats, which were almost all filled.

According to Anu Tali, one of the most popular composers in Estonia, there is a simple explanation why everyone did not attend, money.

For some the answer is simpler, the folk tradition just is not for them.

“Who wants to listen to the boring songs and sit on the Song Festival grounds if the sun is shining on top of your head?” asked Businessman Rein Lang. “You can take your beer in a much more pleasant environment.”

But the pessimism has yet to hit the performers, 1,500 of whom came from abroad for the festival.

Estonian President Lennart Meri explained that although it is popular to say song festivals are not popular any more, they are still related to the heart, like the language, mind and love.

Tiit, one of the performers at the Song Festival has been giving thought to how to keep the sentiment filled holiday alive. He believes one of the recent changes, the addition of classical music is a step in the right direction.

“The professional singers and orchestras performing on the first day of the festival give more value to the festival. People can hear something new besides the traditional songs, something that is performed in the concert halls.”