Riigikogu committee members call Martin Helme for law firm deal meeting

Louis Freeh at a press conference earlier this month, announcing the deal between his law firm and the finance ministry.
Louis Freeh at a press conference earlier this month, announcing the deal between his law firm and the finance ministry. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Opposition MPs on the Riigikogu's finance committee have called for an extraordinary meeting to get to the bottom of the details of a deal which saw finance minsiter Martin Helme (EKRE) hire a U.S. law firm to act for Estonia in money laundering investigations. The same firm has allegedly represented at least one Russian client involved in potential money laundering.

Members of the opposition Social Democratic Party (SDE) sent out a press release on Tuesday requesting that Riigikogu finance committee chair Aivar Kokk (Isamaa) convene an extraordinary meeting of the committee as soon as possible, to review the agreement Helme made with law firm Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan.

The Riigikogu is currently on its summer recess but extraordinary sessions and committee meetings can be held.

As reported by ERR News, Helme has rejected claims in an article appearing on daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) Tuesday, that as Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan's senior partner, former FBI director Louis Freeh had acted for a Russian-owned company at the heart of the so-called Magnitsky money laundering saga, and that the company, Prevezon , had channeled some of its funds via the now-defunct Tallinn branch of Danske Bank, this represented a conflict of interest.

Louis Freeh and his firm were hired it the beginning of the month, with Helme and his ministry acting unilaterally rather than with the rest of the cabinet. The full details of the agreement have not been made public.

Aivar Kokk told ERR Tuesday afternoon that although SDE's proposal has not yet directly reached the committee, he was trying to catch Martin Helme in order to hammer out a time to discuss the issue.

Helme is currently on vacation, Kokk said.

Kokk added the putative meeting would attempt to ascertain directly from the source whether the EPL claims are correct or not, in his opinion, as well as why Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan was chosen and what the aims of the two-year, €3 million-agreement are.

SDE MP Riina Sikkut, who sits on the finance committee, says doubts about the reliability and background of Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan need to be allayed.

"There are a number of unanswered questions, including whether minister Helme has acted in the interests of the Estonian state. It is essential that the finance committee convenes and understands what this agreement on behalf of the Estonian state is," she said, adding that Riigikogu members must opportunity to get acquainted with the contract and its terms.

The finance committee has slated Mondays and Thursdays for possible meetings through summer. Kokk said he did not think this Thursday (July 30) would be viable, but August might be, even as early as next week, depending on the finance minister's schedule.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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