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

Economic relations with Russia come with additional dangers

Deputy head of the Internal Security Service (ISS) Eerik Heldna said that in dealing with Russia, it is impossible to distinguish between state powers, secret services and organized crime.

“The biggest problem we, as a security service see with our eastern neighbor is that not one sector which is important to our transit sector, infrastructure and energy above all, have been built up according to free market rules,” said Heldna on Wednesday.

He said many people behind those Russian companies (trading with Estonia) are connected to security organizations and organized crime. “It is a symbiosis. They use each other for protecting their interests,” Heldna said.

The biggest danger is the uncertainty behind the business partner’s motivation, he said, adding that it is never clear if any deal is just economic or are there more sinister reasons that will come back to bite you.

Heldna said not all economic relations with Russia are bad or dangerous, and Estonia’s geographic location must be used to the nation’s advantage, but that uncertainty is an additional factor.

Source: ERR via Estonian Review

Imprisoned former KAPO official convicted of additional crime

Indrek Põder, a former high-level official for the Internal Security Services who was sentenced to prison for bribery and influence peddling in 2012, has been convicted of leaking sensitive information and received three-month prison term that will be added to his existing four-year prison term, reported Postimees.

Põder’s case is considered the worst-ever working accident of KAPO since 1991.

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Elite unit to combat large-scale economic fraud

Central Criminal Police is setting up a separate unit to fight major economic fraud and has allocated 300,000 euros in wages to attract the best minds, writes Eesti Päevaleht.

The unit’s head Janek Maasik says that the unit’s objective is to improve Estonia’s economic environment as it will focus on the most complex and severe fraud cases such as large-scale tax evasion, fraudulent bankruptcies, economic fraud committed by cyber crime, etc.

The unit will be headed by Janek Maasik who has battled fraud in South Prefecture of the Police and Borderguard Authority. The team will be manned by anti-fraud specialists of the central criminal police, experts of the tax and customs authority and former staff of KAPO. The unit will have about 50 officials who will be located around Estonia.

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Criminal police arrests head of Estonian mafia

In one of its largest operations against organized crime, the Estonian criminal police on Monday arrested several members of the Estonian mafia, including its head Assar Paulus, writes Postimees.

In the operation that was prepared for around six months, the criminal police arrested about twenty Estonians who are suspected being mobsters.

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