Minister of Finance Defends Establishment's Record on Bank, Saying Russia Created Mess
Finance Minister Jürgen Ligi countered criticism on the VEB Fund issue, saying that the situation is not Estonia’s fault and current taxpayers should not compensate damages from 20 years ago.
Ligi told Ärileht today that freezing the money was a political action on Russia’s side and Estonia will not compensate any losses.
"You can forget masochistic dreams about the Estonian state giving large sums in compensation after the fact. Current taxpayers do not have to pay for the damages," Ligi said.
Today, the National Audit Office released the conclusions of an audit into the VEB Fund, a financial instrument set up by the Estonian government for depositors who lost money in the Soviet Union's Vneshekonombank 20 years ago. It found serious problems: murky transactions with certificates, unequal treatment of depositors, non-matching amounts in accounting, and spotty oversight.
Shortly after re-independence, the freezing of Estonian banks' money in the Vneshekonombank threatened to derail the economy, so in early 1993, Parliament created the VEB Fund, in which 50 million euros of claims were parked - about 30 million of it depositor money and 20 million banks' own funds.
In one aspect consistent with Ligi, the National Audit Office said there was no evidence that Estonia absorbed additional losses due to some of the more publicized central bank actions.