Ministry probe into PPA goings on during Vaher tenure deadline postponed

Elmar Vaher.
Elmar Vaher. Source: ERR

An official investigation to be conducted in respect of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) and relating to its former chief, relating to corruption allegations which emerged in March, was due to be completed by today, the last day of May.

This deadline has now been postponed by a week.

The Ministry of the Interior started the official investigation in March, in order to ascertain all circumstances related to the timely transfer and/or rotation of employees from the PPA, and the legality of same. At that time, the deadline for supervision was set to 31 May.

Work rotations by top officials are fairly common, for instance from the PPA to the Estonian Defense Forces; what is being investigated is whether a rotation took place on paper only, in order to preserve full pension rights.

Kersti Ringmets, communications advisor at the Ministry of the Interior, told ERR that the supervision period is not over yet, and the new deadline of June 9 has been put in place.

On March 21, officers of the Internal Security Service (ISS) filed fraud suspicions Eerik Heldna, head of the customs department at the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (MTA).

On the same day a suspicion was filed against Elmar Vaher, head of the PPA at the time, though nearing the end of his term.

The suspicion held that Heldna, who was working on rotation with the EDF at the time, at his behest and with the connivance of Vaher, had been ostensibly drafted into service with the PPA, on April 2019.

This paper rotation was allegedly done in order that he fulfill the 25-year service period with the PPA, in order to be eligible for the ensuing pension, but was not actually physically on rotation with the PPA at that time.

Minister of the Interior Lauri Läänemets (SDE) then relieved Vaher of his post, and also signed a directive to initiate a service supervision, with the aim of assessing the legality of personnel actions carried out at the PPA, over the past five years. These criminal proceedings are still ongoing.

At the start of this month, the Ministry of the Interior terminated the disciplinary proceedings against Vaher, since his term of service expired on May 2, and under Estonian law a procedure of this nature cannot be carried out, nor can any penalty be imposed, other than when a public service relationship is still current, in other words Vaher's service term ended and so to did the ministry's disciplinary proceedings.

Egert Belitšev, due to become the new PPA chief anyway at the end of Vaher's term, saw his start date moved forward as a result.


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Editor: Karin Koppel, Andrew Whyte

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