A local entrepreneur and several Kohtla-Järve council members and officials were arrested on corruption charges on Tuesday, the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) announced. The charges are related to the giving and receiving of bribes and influence peddling.
The PPA confirmed to ERR the detained entrepreneur is Nikolai Ossipenko.
He is accused of influencing officials and council members in the eastern town of Kohtla-Järve to make decisions that were beneficial to him.
Preliminary charges of bribery and/or influence peddling were made against eight officials and councilors, the PPA said. These charges may change over the course of the investigation.
Ats Kübarsepp, head of the Central Criminal Police Corruption Crime Bureau, said there are reasons to suspect the entrepreneur bribed local politicians. He said the charges relate to several instances.
"The data gathered in the proceedings so far indicate that the suspect had influence over the decisions made in the city, directed them according to his needs and used both public and personal resources for this purpose," he said.
"Corruption is not just a crime, but a way of thinking and corrupt city management affects the well-being of every local resident," Kübarsepp added.
The Central Criminal Police Corruption Crime Bureau and Viru District Prosecutor's Office are carrying out the investigation.
Ossipenko's company N&V has carried out maintenance for roads and streets in several municipalities in Ida-Viru County.
Last week, Kohtla-Järve Mayor Toomas Nael signed a five-year, €15 million agreement with N&V's successor group EkonV Grupp, local newspaper Põhjarannik reported.
Editor: Marko Tooming, Helen Wright