The ministry of education says it is releasing the acting chief of its education and youth board Mart Laidmets from his post, due to his signing of an 'unreasonable' contract with a consultancy firm, daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL) reports. The firm's owner is Laidmet's predecessor on the board, Ulla Ilisson.
The ministry is releasing Ladimets, Acting Director General of the Education and Youth Board (HARNO) and also its former secretary general, Kristi Vinter-Nemvalts, education ministry secretary general, told EPL (link in Estonian), as he had entered into an agreement with a consulting company on behalf of the ministry, but in a way which included opaque and/or inaccurate promises which the ministry considers to be not viable financially.
Vinter-Nemvalts stressed that, although the analysis the ministry commissioned to look at agreements and commitments entered into by previous leaders is still ongoing, the question is not whether Laidmets violated the rules established by the ministry.
Vinter-Nemvalts said that: "We have reason to believe that if this employment relationship had continued, the damage would have been even greater. We have enough evidence to consider his actions to be incorrect and opaque." without elaborating on what the pledges had involved or to whom they were given.
EPL, however, reports that the other party was Ilisson Consultancy, a company owned by Ilisson herself.
While the agreement, signed in spring 2020, does not constitute suspected corruption inasmuch as it was not signed between two family members or those in a close relationship, Vinter-Nemvalts added, it did involve: "A mixture of false advice and incompetence."
The ministry is conducting an external audit to establish whether the transaction Laidmets entered into entails a repayment obligation, while Laidmets himself denied the ministry's charge as such, saying that some process violations may have happened.
The Ministry of Education and Research announced last week it is to release Laidmets from his role as HARNO acting director from December 1, saying he exceeded his authority and took on unjustified financial obligations
Laidmets has been the acting director of HARNO since August 9, following Ilisson's resignation in June. Ilisson said at the time that she wanted to pursue fresh challenges.
Editor: Andrew Whyte