The suspects of historical cryptocurrency fraud Sergei Potapenko and Ivan Turõgin were among the biggest backers of politician Raimond Kaljulaid when he ran for European Parliament as an independent in 2019. Kaljulaid said he learned of their involvement this week.
On Sunday, November 20, the Cybercrime Bureau of the National Criminal Police and the FBI arrested Sergei Potapenko and Ivan Turõgin, who are both suspected of fraud and money laundering. Both donated €12,500 to Kaljulaid's campaign in 2019.
Kaljulaid raised a total of €95,240 in campaign funds all of which he spent, mostly on advertising.
The MP said he was put in touch with the sponsors through mutual acquaintances. "Back then, there was some positive media coverage of them as successful entrepreneurs and as contributing to Ida-Viru County development. I had no suspicions as concerned their background," he said.
Kaljulaid added that the sponsors did not voice any detailed political interests. He also said that his knowledge of cryptocurrency is limited and he has made no relevant policy proposals.
The police launched the investigation into the activities of Potapenko and Turõgin in 2020, a year after European Parliament elections. Kaljulaid said he had no knowledge of proceedings.
"We have exchanged a few emails. Naturally, I knew nothing of the investigation into their activities. I learned about it via the news last night," the politician said.
Kaljulaid said he hopes the money he received came from legal business income. "Unfortunately, there is too little public information to say for sure. The case will go to trial eventually, and we might learn something then."
After leaving the Center Party following Riigikogu elections, Kaljulaid took 20,640 votes (6.2 percent) at the 2019 European Parliament elections in May of 2019 and was not elected. He joined the Social Democratic Party (SDE) later that year.
Editor: Marcus Turovski