Incoming prosecutor general makes combating money laundering a priority

Incoming Prosecutor General Andres Parmas.
Incoming Prosecutor General Andres Parmas. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Incoming Prosecutor General Andres Parmas says he is making improvements on investigating economic crimes as he starts his tenure, but otherwise no significant changes will be made to the role he has taken over from Lavly Perling.

"Certainly things can always be done better and to a better standard," Parmas, who previously worked on the Kosovo Specialist Chambers and Specialist Prosecutor's Office, based in the Hague, the Netherlands, and representing the partly-disputed Balkan state of Kosovo, as well as sitting as a judge in Tallinn Circuit Court's criminal division, told ETV current affairs show Aktuaalne kaamera Thursday evening.

"In my opinion, some of the key areas that could be highlighted where the prosecutor's office may been less effective to date so far are the obtaining, confiscation and detection of criminal proceeds, as well as the ability to deal with economic crime in the broader sense," he added, noting that the office also has some room for improvement in detecting cybercrime.

He also said that he had no plans to make changes in the makeup of personnel at the prosecutor's office.

"I don't think that would be the most sensible start, especially since I'm an outsider. First and foremost, I need time to become more familiar with how the organization works from the inside, so it's possible to start making those decisions. It would not be very smart to come to work on the first day and put on the table a list of people who have to go or move to another office, "he said.

As to interior minister Mart Helme's (EKRE) claim that anyone who does not believe there is a deep state is themselves a part of said deep state, Parmas said that he was not part of such a setup.

"I also believe that in fact Estonia is a state governed by the rule of law, [and] I can do my job within the framework of the constitution and laws," he added.

Parmas' predecessor, Lavly Perling, had faced criticism on issues of impartiality from Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) leading members, partly over her marriage to head of the Internal Security Services (ISS) deputy director Martin Perling.

While justice minister Raivo Aeg (Isamaa) had supported Perling, who had been acting prosecutor general after her stint finished in October 2019, getting a new five-year term – the role is ultimately one which is appointed by the justice minister after consulting with the Riigikogu's legal affairs committee – EKRE opposed it.

The Office of the Prosecutor General is part of the Prosecutor's Office in Estonia and falls under the justice ministry's remit and directs pre-trial criminal proceedings, represents public prosecution in court and participates in planning surveillance activities, among other tasks. It is a two-tier body, consisting of the Office of the Prosecutor General, and four district prosecutor's offices.

The original Aktuaalne kaamera slot (in Estonian) is here.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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