Prosecutor: No evidence of criminal dimension in minister's ECA candidacy
The State Prosecutor sees no indication that the nomination process of the current finance minister to candidacy for Estonia's next representative at the European Court of Auditors contained any criminal aspect.
The Prosecutor's Office received a criminal complaint several weeks ago, from a member of the opposition Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), which claimed that the finance minister, Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, had directed the candidacy process herself, thereby committing a crime in relation to the law on officials' appointments, investigative weekly Eesti Ekspress writes.
State Prosecutor's Office received a criminal complaint from a member of EKRE a few weeks ago, Eesti Ekspress writes.
The Prosecutor's Office, however, opted not to start commence criminal proceedings, due to a lack of evidence that any crime had taken place.
In addition to the information presented in the complaint, the office says it also analyzed what had been published publicly on the matter and was unable to locate any public statements by those involved in the case so far which would indicate that Pentus-Rosimannus had in some way directed the decision for her candidacy to be submitted.
Nonetheless, the Prosecutor's Office notes that should any evidence be presented which changes the situation in the direction of leading to a criminal suspicion, the option of initiating criminal proceedings would remain possible.
The original Eesti Ekspress piece (in Estonian) is here.
Part of the issue relates to a fissure between at least two pieces of relevant legislation, one of which states that the appointment of the ECA representative, a post in the past held by former President Kersti Kaljulaid, is up to the finance minister – which in this case is Pentus-Rosimannus herself – while another law states that high officials cannot appoint themselves to a post.
At the same time, as a cabinet member or even as not, it would be difficult to see how Pentus-Rosimannus could be nominated candidate for the post completely out of the blue and with no prior knowledge, meaning conversation on at least the fact of the vacancy, once current incumbent Juhan Parts' term ends on December 31, would have taken place involving the finance minister, likely dating back to early on in the year.
A political aspect even involves another coalition party, Isamaa, who have opposed the finance minister's appointment to the role, prompting a charge, from Reform, that Isamaa wanted to keep the post within its own ambit (Parts is a former Isamaa prime minister).
Finally the fact that Rural Affairs Minister Urmas Kruuse (Reform) nominated Pentus-Rosimannus to the post while the latter was in Prague for an EU-level meeting also prompted suspicions; deputizing in and of itself for a minister while they are away is standard practice.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte
Source: Eesti Ekspress