Culture ministry audit finds TMW organizer used public funds prudently

Helen Sildna.
Helen Sildna. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The Estonian Ministry of Culture has completed its audit of the accounts of OÜ Shiftworks, the company that organizes the Tallinn Music Week (TMW) and Station Narva festivals. The auditors found that state funds provided to Shiftworks had been used for the purposes intended, and that there were no instances of double financing.

A follow-up audit conducted by the Ministry of Culture also found that Shiftworks OÜ, which is managed by Helen Sildna, did retain records of its accounts. According to the Ministry of Culture's Permanent Secretary Tarvi Sits, the changes and improvements made as a result of the audit mean Shiftworks' accounts now contain all the required details regarding the company's revenue and expenditure.

Sits said, that the ministry has a very good working relationship with Sildna and Shiftworks. "Whenever the auditors had questions, they provided the information. OÜ Shiftworks has also engaged a financial consultant, which is a very sensible move," said Sits.

Sits added, that in future, the Ministry of Culture will implement a system which entails reaching a more precise agreement with its various strategic partners regarding the objectives for which financial support is to be provided. In cases where the amount of funding given exceeds €150,000, there will also be a mandatory audit of the beneficiary's annual accounts.

"The Ministry of Culture is a distributor of public money, so we also have a duty to monitor how well it is used, even though we have no reason to believe that anyone is not using it well. The audit plan will be approved a year in advance, and so then the auditees will receive the information," explained Sits. According to Sits, there is no reason to believe that Shiftworks will be audited every year.

He said that the ministry has a constructive working relationship with Helen Sildna. He also added, that it would have been better if the ministry had received answers from Shiftworks to certain questions regarding cost documents during the audit and therefore had not had to go ahead with a follow-up audit.

In mid-March, reports emerged that the stumbling block for the auditors, who began looking into Shiftworks' accounts last October, related to an extract they had been forwarded from the company's accounts.

Among other things, the ministry was trying to assess whether or not Shiftworks, which had received grants from several sources, namely the Ministry of Culture, the Integration Foundation, the Cultural Endowment of Estonia and Enterprise Estonia (EAS), had submitted the same expense documents twice to different donors.

Although the Ministry of Culture repeatedly requested accounting data from Shiftworks, the company did not provide it. In the absence of the required information, the ministry's internal audit department was therefore unable to provide an assessment. At the time, Taaniel Raudsepp, undersecretary for arts at the Ministry of Culture, told ERR that the situation suggested Sildna's company's accounts were not in order.

Representatives of the ministry subsequently met with Sildna, who promised to submit the necessary documents by April 3, which she did. A follow-up audit was then completed by the end of May, as agreed.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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