Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE) dismisses allegations of accusations of misuse of 500,000 kroons (€31,955) and says that he did not deal with financial matters personally at all while working as ambassador to Russia, saying claims that he did arise from a student body which has now formed part of the basis of the Social Democratic Party (SDE).
As reported by ERR News, former Ministry of Foreign Affairs chancellor and ex-MEP Indrek Tarand says that Helme's career in the foreign ministry ended because he was caught by an internal audit in 2001 for the illegitimate spending of 500,000 kroons.
Helme's responses to questions from ERR's Indrek Kiisler follow.
What is your answer to the allegations that Indrek Tarand and former president Toomas Hendrik Ilves have presented? What are you going to do?
My answer is very simple. These stories are not true. Regarding Ilves, I can say that it's is a lie that he recalled me from Moscow. He didn't tell me to come back. On the contrary, my time in Moscow was extended for a couple of months, and after Moscow, I became [foreign affairs ministry] deputy chancellor and worked together with Ilves for a year at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Regarding the financial claims, they are in effect accusing me of being a leader of a criminal group, since no check or money came through me personally.
All the money went through the bookkeepers at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at the embassy. This, in turn, was reviewed by people who were specifically dealing with either staffing or salary issues, or administrative issues, including construction and inventory concerns, which I did not deal with at all. To give the impression that I was moving around cash in suitcases and I didn't know what I was doing is alll just lying to people who don't understand the system.
I am in short saying that this is an information attack coordinated by EÜS (Estonian Students' Society) "children", who now belong to the [opposition] Social Democratic Party, so it is all wrong, and in fact slanderous, and I categorically reject all these events of a quarter of a century ago.
You are the Minister of the Interior and vice-chair of EKRE. Are you going to defend your honor and go to court?
Look, this is what the media is waiting for, for things to escalate into a fight. I am consultating with some people and will see what they recommend.
I repeat, these are things that happened a quarter of a century ago ... and somewhere the figure of 500,000 has been taken up by Tarand, and it just makes me laugh. In the interview given to Delfi web newspaper, he could not prove his point, saying: "It could have happened" or "there was the intention," ... well, maybe I have the intention to be a lover of one of the Kardashians, so what should we do now - because it's just a silly thing, it's clearly malicious and slanderous.
And yes, it is possible that I will go to court because I am getting tired of all this. I have experienced these accusations for years, during the presidential elections, during the Riigikogu elections and I will say one thing - unlike them, I have documents that prove my income, mortgages. They don't have anything but loose words.
Indrek Tarand said that you were caught during an audit. Have you seen this audit yourself, or do know anything about it? Is it somewhere on paper?
No, I haven't seen any audits and I have never been charged. During the time I was in Moscow, national audit came over several times, the accountants of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited, and during my time, I was not accused of misusing funds. There has been no written document with any accusations, and all these stories are just malicious fiction.
When will you make a decision on whether to go to court or not?
Well, after consulting with my lawyers. I'm on vacation right now, and to be honest, I won't let my vacation be ruined because of this.
Editor: Roberta Vaino