State prosecutor: Court of Auditors candidate selection not regulated
Speaking to ERR on Friday, State Prosecutor Laura Aiaots said that analyzing the criminal offense report submitted against ex-finance minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus was difficult, as the selection process for Estonia's candidate for the European Court of Auditors (ECA) isn't precisely regulated, due to which not naming a candidate cannot be considered stalling either.
On what grounds did you not launch a criminal investigation?
Reviewing the criminal offense report, the Prosecutor's Office found that there are no materials indicating that this was a violation of procedural restrictions on the part of Keit Pentus-Rosimannus.
In justification — the distinction needs to be made in the process in question, which is currently being criticized in the case of the candidate for ECA, that on one hand, the minister of finance nominates [a candidate] in accordance with current regulations, but [Estonia lacks] a regulation regarding how the candidate submitted to the Government of the Republic by the minister of finance is chosen.
It turns out that in under established convention, the selection process is not the finance minister's choice, but that of party leaders, and is first and foremost a political agreement.
Keit Pentus-Rosimannus did not participate in this process, ans insofar as she did not participate in it, it cannot essentially be called a steering of this decision on her part.
Keit Pentus-Rosimannus knew at the beginning of the year already that she is the candidate, and talks were held with Jüri Ratas — chairman of [the Reform Party's] coalition partner at the time, i.e. the Center Party — who did not support her candidacy. Pentus-Rosimannus likewise didn't submit a new candidate either, but rather waited for the situation to become more favorable her — which happened in July, when a new coalition was formed and the situation had changed. Does this behavior not also somhow fall under someone steering decisions in a more favorable direction for themselves?
The distinction once again needs to be made here regarding whether the minister of finance handled the choice of candidate. Based on current understanding, the choice of candidate was not handled by the minister of finance, but was rather a matter of decision by party leaders.
If this didn't fall within her competence based on her understanding and in accordance with established practice either, then the fact that she didn't start seeking a new member cannot in any way be called stalling on her part either. She was acting based on existing material, i.e. the understanding that the selection of the candidate is not actually the job of the minister of finance.
But the law clearly states that the candidate for member of the European Court of Auditors is nominated in Estonia by the minister of finance, i.e. Keit Pentus-Rosimannus.
They nominate them to the government, but how the choice is reached regarding who is the candidate to be nominated by the finance minister, that is not regulated anywhere.
Is how the nomination of the candidate took place purely a formality for you? Keit Pentus-Rosimannus couldn't nominate herself. They took advantage of the situation and Minister of Rural Affairs Urmas Kruuse as acting finance minister nominated Keit Pentus-Rosimannus. Was that not a significant observation for you there?
That is one part of that stage, but you have to consider what role someone actually has in what stage. Right now I'd say that the emphasis is primarily on previous activity, and you cannot possibly see in previous activity, i.e. in how the selection of the candidate occurred, the substantial guiding of the decision on Keit Pentus-Rosimannus' part.
How big of a job was reviewing these materials?
This was certainly a big job. This situation is also complicated by the fact that it would be much easier if we also had a regulation regarding how a candidate is chosen. Then it would certainly be much easier to decide this.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla