Those convicted in Estonia's first major investment fraud case may avoid having to serve real time in prison after Tallinn Circuit Court lessened the sentences meted out by Harju County Court in late May.
Harles Liiv, Tõnis Haavel, Erki Piirsalu, and Šarūnas Skyrius will face probation and suspended sentences ranging from seven months to two years. The company at the center of the scheme, Gild Financial Advisory Services, will face a fine of only 50,000 euros rather than 150,000 euros.
Many of the original punishments from May 30 were more severe than what prosecutors had called for. The sentences in the Baku affair were from three to six months of real jail time, while the prosecutor had called for only a suspended sentence.
According to the original accusation, Piirsalu was the leader of a scheme where in July 2007 Gild Financial Advisory Services organized a bond issue for a planned 16.5 million euros, which was to be invested into 147 hectares of land in Baku, Azerbaijan. Property infrastructure would be developed; the land would then be sold off. But the money ended up being used for fraudulent purposes.
The bond float raised 12 million euros from investors that included prominent people such as publishing magnate Hans H. Luik and executives Marcel Vichmann and Olari Taal. The accused also included people in high places: Haavel sat on the Estonian Railways supervisory board while a Gild partner, Rain Tamm, was on ERR's supervisory board.