Prosecutor's office decides to file charges against seven in Erial case

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Erial savings and loan association. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Office of the Prosecutor General filed charges on Sunday against seven people and two businesses in a criminal case in which an investigation was conducted into suspected investment fraud and embezzlement by the founder and managers of Estonian savings and loan association Erial.

According to the statement of charges, the founder of Erial, Ilya, and a member of the management board, Daniela, and the company Delkona OÜ committed investment fraud and presented false information about the activities of Erial. Depositors and the public were misled about the real financial situation of the association, including for the purpose of attracting new deposits and issuing larger loans.

Ilya, Daniela, Daniel and the company Transpire OÜ were also accused of embezzling close to €1 million from the association by way of artificial real estate price distortions with the help of Sofja.

Daniela is also accused of presenting false information about Erial to the company's shareholders and auditor while Kristiina and Robert are accused of counterfeiting a document and Sofja of aiding the counterfeiting of a document and of using a counterfeit document.

Leho Laur, head of the economic crimes bureau at Estonia's Central Criminal Police, said that rapid procedural intervention is crucial in cases of financial crime with great impact as they may cause damages to hundreds or even thousands of people.

"One of our goals was to conduct the proceedings rapidly and efficiently to prevent further criminal offenses and greater damages to depositors with each passing day. We launched public procedural acts, such as searches and hearings, as soon as we had collected sufficient evidence of infringements. In particular, we took into consideration the depositors of Erial, who are really the party suffering damages in this case," Laur said.

Public prosecutor Sigrid Nurm said that based on the evidence collected in the criminal proceedings, the prosecutor's office is convinced that the founder of Erial and the member of its management board have not been acting in the interests of Erial or its depositors when allocating their deposits.

"In our assessment, they were guided by personal gain and by doing so, deprived the depositors of the right to have their say in the loan association's decision-making process. According to the charges, over €5 million have been taken out of Erial without a legal basis at the initiative of Ilya, who has remained in custody for six months already," Nurm said.

Ilya is also accused of giving a bribe and Dmitri of accepting a bribe on a large scale. According to the charges, Dmitri relayed information obtained through his work as a police official to Ilya in return of a bribe.

Priit Parkna, head of the internal control unit of the Police and Border Guard Board, said that the official had been released from service immediately after his arrest in November.

"Giving out work-related information and accepting a bribe are very serious violations, which we had to respond to as an organization in addition to the criminal procedure. As police officers, we need to be very responsible with the information entrusted to us and do our work based on the interests of Estonian people. In the present case, the official gravely erred in this regard and understood that they couldn't possibly continue working as a police official," Parkna said.

The taking and accepting of a bribe is punishable by one to ten years' imprisonment. Investment fraud and embezzling are punishable by up to five years' imprisonment, submission of incorrect information concerning financial situation of company and counterfeiting a document by up to one year of imprisonment and use of a counterfeit document by up to three years' imprisonment.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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