Enterprise Estonia to have Ermamaa project audited

Ärma Farm, located in Viljandi County, has been in former President Ilves' family for generations. (Postimees/Scanpix)
10/19/2016 8:29 AM
Category: News

Enterprise Estonia’s supervisory board has commissioned an audit of its support of Ermamaa, a company owned by former Toomas Hendrik Ilves that in 2006 received more than €190,000 for the conversion of Ilves’ country home into an agritourism farm.

Shortly after Ilves left office, he announced to Enterprise Estonia on Oct. 12 that he didn’t intend to use the farm he extended using the €190,000 grant for the purpose set out by Ermamaa’s business plan. Enterprise Estonia announced that based on a decision made in 2012, it demanded €19,039 back, 10% of the sum Ilves' company initially received.

The former president was heavily criticized after it turned out that the changes made in 2012 to the agreement between Ermamaa and Enterprise Estonia apparently had been helped along by then-director of the Office of the President, Siim Raie.

Enterprise Estonia decided in 2012 that if by the end of Ilves' second term Ermamaa was not using the farm in accordance with Ermamaa's business plan based on which the grant had been approved, it would demand 10% of the total sum back.

This decision was made public only after Ilves decided not to turn his family's farm into an agritourism business.

The objective of the audit is to get an independent assessment whether or not Enterprise Estonia acted according to the requirements and laws in place, and whether or not it had followed the principle of equal treatment of applicants when it approved its grant to Ermamaa.

The Ministry of Finance’s auditors are also looking into the project. The European Commission announced on Tuesday that it had begun an investigation into whether or not the demand of a partial refund on the part of Enterprise Estonia was consistent with structural funds regulations.

Enterprise Estonia is a state fund created for the support of new businesses in Estonia. As an institution with access to EU structural funds money, it falls in the jurisdiction of both the European Commission as well as the Estonian Ministry of Finance.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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