As the City of Tallinn has lost trust in the board of public transport company Tallinna Linnatranspordi AS (TLT), the city is terminating the employment contracts of TLT CEO Deniss Boroditš and board member Otto Popel, Tallinn Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart (Center) said on Wednesday.
Eesti Ekspress reported on Wednesday (link in Estonian) that both Boroditš and Popel have attended several training events on the City of Tallinn's dime, including the city paying for their plane tickets, hotels and per diems.
Commenting on the matter, Kõlvart said Wednesday that as the TLT board members' behavior was unacceptable to the city government, the latter cannot possibly trust the public transport company's board anymore.
"We cannot trust board members incapable of seeing limits that I believe are obvious," the mayor said.
As trust in them has been lost, the city can no longer cooperate with them, and if cooperation is no longer possible, then the contract must be terminated, he added.
A company's board members may be entitled to various benefits, including training benefits, which according to Kõlvart is standard practice. "What is not standard practice, however, is when the opportunity for training benefits is used for degree studies," he added.
"Public sector principles must be fulfilled here," Kõlvart said. "There are limits in Tallinn — the benefit can equal up to one month's salary [per year]. The total amout spent on degree studies does not comply with this limit."
While this opportunity may be legal, strictly speaking, he doesn't believe such a practice is acceptable at a city-owned company.
He added that TLT's board members should have understood for themselves that not everything needs to be regulated, and that they should be able to understand for themselves what is decent behavior and what isn't.
As a result of this situation, Kõlvart continued, Tallinn city government opted to update the relevant regulations at its meeting on Wednesday. "Now it has been outlined what benefits can be offered to contractual board members and what benefits cannot," he said. "Previously we haven't had such issues; now we do."
Boroditš begna serving as CEO of TLT in August 2018. His predecessor, Enno Tamm, had submitted his resignation that spring in connection with a corruption scandal that had erupted at the public transport company.
Prior to taking over as CEO, Boroditš, who earned a law degree from Concordia International University Estonia, had served as MP in the Riigikogu from 2011 through July 2018.
According to Ekspress' information, TLT paid a total of €33,000-35,000 over two years for Boroditš training trips and related expenses.
Boroditš was earning a monthly salary of €7,500 as CEO of TLT.
A competition will be announced to find a new CEO for TLT, Kõlvart said.
Novikov not resigning as deputy mayor
Tallinn Deputy Mayor Andrei Novikov (Center) told ERR on Wednesday that he would not be resigning over having agreed to Boroditš' expenses. He also noted that TLT board member Lennart Viikma would continue serving on the board.
"As the company has three board members, then until new board members are found, Lennart Viikmaa will remain in office," Novikov said. "Until the new competition is announced, board member Lennart Viikma will fulfill the duties [of CEO]."
Novikov, who is chairman of the supervisory board of TLT, did not yet say when the competition for two new board members would be announced, adding that this would be up to the supervisory board.
He saw no reason to resign as deputy mayor himself, however.
"Essentially we had agreed at the beginning of the year that he would let me know what those potential times may be that he'd be studying, and for the most part this meant listening to certain lectures with earphones on right here in Estonia," Novikov explained. "I had not agreed to what these precise expenses turned out to be. These expenses were a surprise to me too, starting the moment they were made public."
Clarifying, ERR asked Novikov whether he would remain in office. "Currently, yes," he responded.
Editor: Aili Vahtla