Justice minister casts doubt on Pentus-Rosimannus ECA nomination's legality

Minister of Justice Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa).
Minister of Justice Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Since there is scant empirical evidence on the nomination process of Finance Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus (Reform) as Estonia's next representative at the European Court of Auditors (ECA), such a process should be made more transparent, the Pentus-Rosimannus' cabinet colleague, Justice Minister Lea Danilson-Järg (Isamaa) says.

Danilson-Järg said Thursday that: "I also agree with [former state prosecutor] Norman Aas, that since we do not know whether the minister influenced the formation of the final decision in any way or not, I cannot assess the legality of that decision.

"If she participated in forming the decision, it may contradict the anti-corruption law," she added.

Ascertaining this would not be very easy given the opaque nature of the nomination process, the minister added.

"Evaluating the process of submitting Pentus-Rosimannus as a member of the ECA in terms of legality is hard at the moment due to the lack of information, but, of course there are doubts over it," Danilson-Järg told ERR.

At the heart of the matter is also the role that Rural Affairs Minister Urmas Kruuse (Reform) played in deputizing for Pentus-Rosimannus, while she was away at an EU-level meeting, and presenting her candidacy to the cabinet.

If this was all Kruuse's doing, there would be no issue; if Pentus-Rosimannus played any part in influencing the submission, then this was another question in terms of the legislation, the minister added.

Under current law, the finance minister is responsible for nominating the ECA candidate, but at the same time no official may be involved in their own nomination or that of someone close to them – these provisions are contained in two separate acts.

Danilson-Järg could not comment on any likelihood of the Prosecutor's Office in opening up procedures, due to the need to maintain its independence.

The office itself would not directly comment on the matter and spoke in more general terms.

"However, I really hope that the Riigikogu's special anti-corruption committee investigates and evaluates the legality of the process of nominating Keit Pentus-Rosimannus as an ECA member," Danilson-Järg added.

The making of a decisoin must also be understood as participation in and preparation of same, the minister went on, agreeing with a line taken by another former prosecutor, Steven Hristo Evestus, whose opinion piece for ERR (link in Estonian) on the issue first brought controversy to light.

A week ago to the day, Pentus-Rosimannus was approved as next ECA member, to replace Juhan Parts, whose term ends on December 31.

While Reform and the Social Democrats voted in favor of her candidacy, Isamaa, the justice minister's party, voted against.

State Secretary Taimar Peterkop and Auditor General Janar Holm have both said that the finance minister's appointment process was conducted in accordance with the regulations.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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