Erial founder in court seeking information removal from Õhtuleht article

Erial savings and loan association.
Erial savings and loan association. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

On Monday, Harju County Court will hear the lawsuit filed by Ilya Dyagelev, a founding member of Estonian savings and loan association Erial, against daily newspaper Õhtulet and three of its journalists. Dyagelev is seeking the removal of information from one of the newspaper's articles, along with compensation for damages.

Dyagelev filed a lawsuit against AS Õhtuleht Kirjastus, along with journalists Priit Pärnapuu, Dannar Leitmaa and Martin Šmutov, demanding the cessation of the activities, which allegedly caused an infringement of his personal rights. He is also seeking financial compensation for the non-material damages allegedly incurred.

The county court told ERR, that Dyagelev had asked it to order Õhtuleht to remove his first name, surname and details related to his previous convictions from one of its articles. Dyagelev also requested that the court order the defendants to delete contested information from the article.

In Dyagelev's view, the publication of the information was not justified, as it did not add any value to the article. He also considers it to be an infringement of his personal rights, as it had a negative impact on his private life. Dyagelev is therefore seeking compensation from Õhtuleht for non-material damages, which the article's publication allegedly caused.

The main hearing will take place at Harju County Court on Monday, where the case will be heard to its conclusion. The parties involved are not obliged to appear at the hearing in person and, as far as the court is aware, it will instead be attended by their contracted representatives.

Last December, an Erial television advertisement was aired, urging the association's former depositors not to heed negative information about the association and assure them that payments have been made according to the reorganization plan.

"A campaign of slander meant to discredit Erial is continuing in the media. The information presented is unprofessional and unverified, and we hold such activities to be malicious and aimed at generating negative attitudes toward Erial. Erial will meet every wrongful claim with a lawsuit to protect its members' interests. We wish to thank every Erial member who has not gone along with provocations for their trust," the ad said.

Savings and loan association Erial began operating in 2018, raising €17.2 million in deposits by the end of its second year, after promising a 9-12 percent return on investments. The association ran into trouble after suspicions were brought against its founders in several criminal investigations. The association stopped making payments to depositors on December 4, 2020.

In May 2021, the Office of the Prosecutor General filed charges of embezzlement and investment fraud against seven people and two businesses, including Erial board member Daniela Dalberg-Dyageleva and founding member Ilya Dyagelev.

According to the reorganization plan, Erial has liabilities of more than €16 million. In December last year, the association made payments to all shareholders in the first group of  the plan, with the next round of payments due in June 2023.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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