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Ex-PPA director gets paid €4,200 a month after being named fraud suspect

Elmar Vaher.
Elmar Vaher. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Elmar Vaher, until this week director of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), will continue to receive a wage despite being stepped down after being named a suspect in a fraud case earlier this week.

The government stated that: "During the period of suspension from service, Elmar Vaher will be remunerated at 60 percent of his monthly wage."

Since Vaher's monthly gross wage is €7,000, this means €4,200 per month.

The average monthly wage in Estonia was reported at €1,679 gross, as of late 2022.

This set-up is only temporary since Vaher was due to step down at the start of May, at the end of his term, and hand over to Egert Belitšev, while any disciplinary proceedings would in any case necessitate the ending of the above pay arrangement.

It is also not clear whether Vaher will continue as a PPA employee after he ceases being chief of police; the government says wants to receive a summary of any disciplinary proceedings initiated against Vaher, by August 31 at the latest.

Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets (SDE) signed the directive Tuesday which removed Vaher from his post, leading to Belitšev becoming acting PPA director ahead of his official term beginning.

The government reiterated this order at its regular Thursday meeting.

Vaher is a suspect in a case which saw a departmental chief at the Tax and Customs Board (MTA), Eerik Heldna, remain registered as a PPA employee from April 2019 while simultaneously working for the Estonian Defense Forces . While such rotational periods of secondment are apparently quite common for top officials, the entry into the register of Heldna as a continual PPA employee, as facilitated by Vaher, was done in order to ensure continuity in full pension rights.

As a result both men are suspects in a fraud case, while both said that they have followed correct procedures.

The relevant legislation on the payment of Vaher's 60 percent per month wage comes from the Civil Service Act section 78, as below:

§ 78.  Removal from service for period of disciplinary procedure
 (1) The person authorized to impose a disciplinary punishment has the right to remove an official from service for the period of disciplinary proceedings if upon the initial assessment of the disciplinary offence it may be assumed that as a result of the disciplinary procedure the release from service as punishment shall be imposed on the official.

 (2) The removal from service shall be formalized by an administrative act.

 (3) During the period in which the official has been removed from service on the basis of subsection (1) of this section, he or she shall be paid 60 percent of his or her average salary per month but not less than the minimum rate of remuneration established on the basis of subsection 29 (5) of the Employment Contracts Act.

 (4) The unpaid salary shall be paid to the official in arrears immediately after the administrative act regarding the removal from service has been declared cancelled.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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