The Office of the Prosecutor General has terminated criminal proceedings to check the legality of a Covid rapid tests tender handled by then Education Minister Liina Kersna (Reform).
"The proceedings revealed that even though public procurement rules could have been violated in the Ministry of Education and Research's rapid tests tender, no ministry employee nor the minister [Liina Kersna] knowingly gave one company an advantage over others. Therefore, there is no reason to charge anyone with wrongdoing," the Office of the Prosecutor General said.
"The investigation found that the minister and ministry employees were trying to make sure test kits would reach schools by November 1, 2021. They were convinced there was not enough time to involve several bidders and properly weigh their bids, which is why the ministry contacted a single supplier. This was done in knowing that it was in accordance with the Public Procurement Act and rules," Public Prosecutor Laura Aiaots said.
"Criminal proceedings also looked at whether abuse of trust could have been perpetrated in connection with the tender. Because the evidence did not point to intentional violation of the Public Procurement Act, we have no reason to charge anyone with abuse of a position of trust," Aiaots added.
The proceedings were terminated as the prosecution fail to establish elements of criminal offense. The investigation was handled by the Estonian Internal Security Service (ISS) for the Office of the Prosecutor General.
The initial tender to procure coronavirus rapid tests for schools in October of 2021 contacted only a single bidder, with the ministry ending up paying €5.1 million for two million tests. The ministry's second contractor was also found via an unannounced negotiated public tender, and even though the price had now come down to €2.37 million for 2.1 million tests, an audit of the ministry's conduct found that the second tender should have been handled as a standard public procurement since the unforeseen need criterion was no longer present.
Liina Kersna is running for the Reform Party in the electoral district made up of Võru, Valga and Põlva counties in the 2023 Riigikogu elections.
Editor: Marcus Turovski