The Cultural Endowment, known as Kulka, will be investigated by police after documents revealed that one board member participated in a decision to hand 172,000 euros to an NGO, run by the same board member.
Krista Kaer, the head of the Varrak publishing house, became a board member of Kulka in 2011, meaning that she was on the panel which decided how funds would be divided between art projects, Eesti Päevaleht reported. In the same year, she and three others set up the HeadRead NGO, which has been organizing an annual literary festival ever since.
From 2011 onwards, Kulka gave HeadRead a total of 172,000 euros and Kaer took part from voting in four of the seven rounds, in which the festival was successfully granted financial backing, the meeting protocols reveal. The 172,000 euros make up 90 percent of the entire funding of the project.
Kaer said that she did not vote at any of the meetings concerning HeadRead, and thought her name was taken off the list automatically. Olavi Laido, the Head of Kulka, confirmed Kaer's words.
All seven funding decisions would have passed without Kaer's votes, and the investigation is likely to focus more on negligence than corruption. Kaer is a renowned translator, having translated around 70 books into Estonian. She has received recognition from President Toomas Hendrik Ilves for her work in the field of translation, literature and publishing.
The case was opened by the National Audit Office, which passed it on to the police.
The occurence is similar to the more serious sponsorship row concerning the state-owned Port of Tallinn and the Olympic Committee. It was disclosed that Neinar Seli, the member of Port of Tallinn supervisory board, pushed with 4-3 votes through sponsorship decisions that benefited the Olympic Committee, which is headed by Seli. That case is still in the courts.