Harju County Court on Thursday accepted plea bargains reached between the Office of the Prosecutor General and those charged in connection with a criminal organization found to be illegally issuing official documents and will make a decision regarding their confirmation in early February.
Judge Merle Parts will make a decision regarding the confirming of the plea bargains on Feb. 6, court spokesperson Kristina Otsa told ERR's online news portal.
The Office of the Prosecutor General has accused Ljubov Genrihson, 65, currently the only individual to remain in custody, with the formation and leading of a criminal organization as well as repeatedly giving and aiding the giving of bribes, the counterfeiting and aiding in counterfeiting of official documents, the use of counterfeited documents, the fraudulent use of important identity documents and fraud.
According to Otsa, the court has separated the materials involving Genrihson into a separate proceeding as she did not agree to a plea bargain. The court is likewise considering concluding the criminal case of one other defendant for reasons of practicality.
Meeli Paluvits, Žanna Reede, Laivi Seeman, Ülle Lill, Sergei Zimakov, Irina Savenkova, Olga Tsvetkova, Jekaterina Botšarova, Jekaterina Leonova and Anton Kimmer are also all on trial for, among other things, belonging to a criminal organization. Oksana Dmitrieva is likewise to go on trial for the fraudulent use of important identity documents.
According to ERR’s information, the Office of the Prosecutor General terminated the proceedings involving a total of 75 suspects over the course of the criminal investigation due to rational considerations. The majority of these individuals had illegally procured needed documents with the help of the criminal organization between 2011-2015.
According to the charges, people were able to purchase from four officials of the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) various official documents, including diplomas, residence permits, documents needed to obtain citizenship and medical certificates, for which members of the crime ring employed forgery, the submission of false data and accomplices employing false identities, among other tactics.
The PPA officials were not the organizers of the document business, however they provided information about applications, conducted database searches, accepted applications containing false information and issued documents on the basis thereof, receiving bribes for their work. Of the four PPA officials charged, two were service point hall employees and two were specialists.
The investigation revealed that customers had not been paying for the counterfeiting of specific documents but rather for the retrieval of data from citizenship and immigration sector databases needed to submit as ideal and suitable of applications as possible for residency permits and citizenship.
Intermediaries assisted by allowing people to register their home addresses as their legal places of residence, while third parties were also made up in salons to look as similar as possible to individuals wishing to successfully pass language and citizenship exams, for example.
The PPA’s Internal Audit Bureau caught on to the illegal document scam as a result of the collection and analysis of information in spring 2015. Half a year later, at the end of October, twelve suspects were arrested following Operation "Maarika," of which one still remains in custody.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla