NGO Slava Ukraini to decide on making audit details public on Thursday

Kristo Tohver and Johanna-Marie Lehtme.
Kristo Tohver and Johanna-Marie Lehtme. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

The supervisory board of Estonian NGO Slava Ukraini, which is under suspicion of misusing funds, will meet on Thursday to discuss an audit of the organisation's activities. Decisions will then be made as to whether, when and how to disclose the information to the public.

"We will hold a meeting today and provide information about it tomorrow. That's what we'll decide today at the meeting, whether and how we'll share it. I believe we will, but it is a decision for the general assembly," Kristo Tohver, chair of NGO Slava Ukraini's supervisory board, told ERR on Thursday.

Tohver stressed that while his wish is to make the audit public, the decision is one for the NGO's general assembly to make.

"It's up to the NGO's general assembly to decide what will be done and how. I certainly do not make that decision. And in what form we will share it. In short, it's an internal document that I'm not saying we won't share it. I'm just saying that we will decide [what to do], and then we will do it. I'll have to add some form of commentary in there as well, and all those things. We'll do that tomorrow," Tohver said.

"I'm absolutely not saying that we're not going to make it public. What I am saying is, that we'll make that decision calmly today and then in all likelihood we'll go public. My desire is to make it public. /---/ We will release this information all in one go. There is no point in me drip feeding it out in bits and pieces. That's why we want to take the decision calmly, create a supporting letter, or if necessary we may even hold a press conference," Tohver added.

"In short, we want to discuss, in what form, and how, we will make it public. That's what today's meeting is for. The decision will be made and then we will act according to that."

The Slava Ukraini audit, following suspicions of funds misuse, was first launched on March 10 and conducted in two parts. It was first determined which documents still exist, which were then examined based on what kind of transaction they reflected.

Tohver said the audit will be finished no later than June 11, after which its conclusions were to be presented at the Slava Ukraini general meeting. The findings were to be discussed at that meeting and a decision made as to when the results would be made public.

Tohver said that the audit is focusing on transactions made as part of the projects "Lootuse jõulud" (Christmas of Hope), "Guerilla kiirabid" (Guerilla Ambulances) and "1000 kangelast lumest" (1,000 Heroes of Snow), as well as all other transactions tied to IC Construction and AFV. Its goal is to determine which documents still exist and whether they are in accordance with Estonian laws, customs and regulations.

In April it was revealed, that NGO Slava Ukraini has transferred €1.5 million in donations from people in Estonia to a Ukrainian private company called IC Construction, which was tied to its Ukrainian partner, probably had a fictitious owner and the only business activity of which was tied to the Estonian nonprofit. The firm reported a profit of €250,000 last year.

Slava Ukraini executive manager Johanna-Maria Lehtme received great recognition in Estonia for her activities and was elected to the Estonian parliament in the ranks of the Eesti 200 party as its most successful candidate.

The Ukrainian National Bureau of Investigation launched a pretrial investigation on March 24, with criminal proceedings brought based on the sections of embezzlement and use of humanitarian aid and charitable donations for profit. The case is being investigated by the National Bureau of Investigation because of the involvement of state officials.

The Estonian prosecution said on May 9 that it has launched an investigation of its own to get to the bottom of the NGO's use of funds. Proceedings are based on the section of embezzlement. Lehtme was recalled from the Slava Ukraini board the same day.

On May 19, Lehtme announced her decision to resign from the Riigikogu.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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