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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Man found guilty of attempted bribery of customs officer

On Tuesday, 19th of August, Viru County Court found 35-year old Lithuanian citizen guilty of bribery in settlement procedure.

In the first minutes of 19th of August, the Lithuanian truck driver wished to skip a customs inspection of goods in the Narva Border Point and offered a bribe to a tax and customs officer to do so, placing a 500-rouble note inside his passport. A customs officer then detained the bribe-giver and handed him over to the police.

Marek Helm, Director General of the Estonian Tax and Customs Board said that this is the second similar case this year where an officer is pressured to skip a customs inspection and a bribe is offered to do that. “Attempts to violate rules are inevitable in border points but experience shows that bribe-givers end up in a courtroom. Officers in the customs and police are worthy of praise for preventing such acts of corruption, as well as the prosecutor’s office and court for their quick and good work,” Helm noted.

The Lithuanian citizen was given a one-year sentence. The suspended sentence is contingent on three years’ probation. The convict must pay almost 700 euros in fines and costs and the court also confiscated the 500 roubles offered as a bribe. The court judgment is awaiting entry into force.

The previous bribery case in a border point took place on 9 February when a Lithuanian truck driver offered a 50-euro bribe to an officer in exchange for skipping a customs inspection. The Lithuanian citizen was given a suspended one-year sentence contingent on three years’ probation.

Source: Estonian Tax and Customs Board

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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