Reform Party MP takes Postimees to court

Tallinna Sadama nõukogu esimees Remo Holsmer. Postimees/Scanpix
9/21/2015 2:24 PM
Category: Politics

The Port of Tallinn corruption case has led to another feud, with the chairman of company's supervisory board Remo Holsmer (Reform Party) suing daily Postimees for allegedly publishing false information.

He sued due to stories published in Postimees on September 4 and 5, in which anonymous sources say Holsmer asked for a large bribe for the state to pick Vjatšeslav Leedo's company in the domestic ferry service tender, worth around 200 million euros over 10 years.

Holsmer said the pieces are based on opinions, not facts, from anonymous sources, and the stories have cast a shadow over him. He said the authors of the pieces did not present the information impartially or in a balanced way.

The pieces implied that Holsmer and Kalev Lillo, another high-ranking Reform Party member, had asked Leedo for bribes to allow Leedo's company to continue as the domestic ferry service provider.

Postimees said the stories are based on statements given to them by high-level politicians and trustworthy sources.

The state held a tender for the ferry service about a year ago, with Leedo's company losing out to state-owned Port of Tallinn, followed by protests by Leedo. The tender was pushed through by Urve Palo (SDE), then the economy minister. Leedo's company took Palo to court last week for lying about the tender.

Port of Tallinn is set to take over the service in September 2016.

The two-man management board of the Port of Tallinn was hit with corruption allegations a few weeks ago and both men remain under arrest. The figures quoted totaled around four million euros.

Although there is no clear connection between the Port of Tallinn internal corruption case and the ferry tender, one allegation is that the Port of Tallinn leaders benefited personally from buying new ferries for the service, which the company will take over in a year.

Another side to the whole story is the political side, with Leedo and the two Port of Tallinn leaders all Reform Party members, or have close relations with the party.

Former Minister of Economic Affairs Juhan Parts (IRL) first proposed the idea to nationalize the ferry service over ten years ago, and again in 2013, saying it would save a great deal of money, but the move was blocked by a Reform Party-led Cabinet, and it was not until Palo took over from Parts in 2014, that a tender was held and the Port of Tallinn invited to take part.

J.M. Laats

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