Valdo Randpere of the opposition Reform Party has made a written query to Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Reinsalu (Isamaa) on whether the ministry had warned the government of a possible conflict of interests of the U.S. law firm Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP hired to aid Estonia in money laundering investigations.
Spokespeople for the Reform Party told BNS on Wednesday that Randpere seeks to learn if any such warnings were made and whether or not they received a reply from the government or the finance minister.
The Reform Party MP also wants to know if the Foreign Ministry carried out background checks of all three law firms that offered to provide Estonia with legal aid and if a possible conflict of interests also emerged in relation with any of the other law firms.
Reinsalu has ten working days to respond to the Randpere's query.
As reported by ERR News, Minister of Finance Martin Helme (EKRE) entered into an agreement with the U.S law firm Freeh, Sporkin & Sullivan LLP in early July. The firm will provide legal services to the Estonian state in international money laundering investigations, and will cost €3 million over a two-year period.
Helme said that the agreement brought a front-rank U.S. law firm, which has also worked with the U.S. government, and with experience in international financial crime representation, on board for Estonia.
On July 28, Helme rejected claims in an article appearing on daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL), 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.
Danske Estonia was closed in late 2019 following revelations that over €230 billion in potentially illicit funds, primarily of Russian origin, had flowed via the bank's portals in the period 2007-2015.
The likelihood of finding a law firm in that field who had not had some client relations relating to Russia somewhere down the line was unrealistic, Helme added, noting that two other law firms had turned the Estonian government down on the basis of potential conflict of interest.
Editor: Kristjan Kallaste