Following the arrest of board chairman Ralf Allikvee, two surgeons and one administrative employee of East-Tallinn Central Hospital (ITK) in connection with corruption-related suspicions on Tuesday, Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said that the incident was "regrettable" and undermined the city's image at a time when it is trying to systematically prevent corruption.
Commenting on the arrests, Kõlvart said that the city was unaware of corruption at ITK, adding that they were only made aware of the suspicions by the Prosecutor's Office on Tuesday night.
"I, too, only found out from the Prosecutor's Office press release that the police and the Prosecutor's Office are interested in public procurements in particular," he said. "I can't say that our internal audit has recently investigated this issue at this particular institution. At the same time, our internal audit currently deals with the audit of (city) institutions on a regular basis."
According to the mayor, the work plan of the city's internal audit was broadened last year, and more city-owned institutions are to be audited this year than ever before.
"We indeed did not reach [ITK]," he said. "At the same time, I know that ITK's supervisory board was planning on auditing its procurement procedures. It is clear by now that the investigation and audit will start taking place in parallel."
Kõlvart said that he had given the order last year already to review the perspectives and organization of work of every city-owned foundation and business. The primary goal of doing so was to gain a clear understanding of what institutions the city actually needs and what it doesn't.
"There is no existential question when it comes to ITK, but as regards this incident, then that kind of question certainly arises," he added.
Kõlvart said that so long as Allikvee is a suspect, he cannot remain director of a major city institution. "What will become of the doctors that were arrested, that we cannot say right now," he continued. "The police and Prosecutor's Office will comment in that regard."
"Our goal is to ensure that the impact of the situation to arise on our quality of service and patients is minimal," the mayor said. "The goal is for patient waits for appointments not to be prolonged. Should the risk come up, the hospital will contact each patient individually. Work peace must be ensured for the hospital staff."
Editor: Aili Vahtla