Kallas' husband's firm made €1.5m from Russia business since February 2022

Office door at Stark Logistics' premises in Tallinn.
Office door at Stark Logistics' premises in Tallinn. Source: ERR

A logistics company part-owned by Arvo Hallik, husband of Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform), made €1.1 million in revenue shipping aerosol cans and other metal containers to the Russian Federation last year, followed by nearly €475,000 so far this year, according to daily Eesti Päevaleht (EPL).

This totals around €1.5 million in revenue since the war began.

The company in Russia which is the recipient of the shipments is also owned, via an Estonian-registered firm, by the CFO at Metaprint – the company making the exported items.

Revelations that Stark Logistics, in which Hallik has a 24.8 percent stake, have continued to transport products made by Metaprint, to Russia, right down to the present and without halting the activity as soon as possible after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine have raised questions given Prime Minister Kallas consistent message that all business with the Russian Federation, not only involving Estonian firms but those across Europe and the West, should have ceased in the aftermath of the invasion.

Stark Logistics had previously sought to minimize its business activity involving shipments to Russia, in its statements to ERR and other media publications in Estonia, saying that these numbered only a couple per week and that this activity would cease by next month.

EPL (link in Estonian) also writes that this impression is not given by Metaprint's partner company in Russia, OOO Aeroprom, which has on the contrary implied that it wishes to expand its operations.

OOO Aeroprom stated in a report published in February this year that: "In 2023, we will battle to continue production, boost production volume and increase sales revenues, in order to strengthen the company's economic position."

Aeroprom reported revenues slightly higher in the first year of the current phase of the Ukrainian war, ie. 2022, than it had for the preceding year, making it a logical conclusion to draw that it paid at least the same amount to Russian state coffers, via taxation, in 2022 as it had in 2021, and thus contributed to state funds which could be used in continuing to prosecute the war on Ukraine.

Therefore, it can be assumed that the same amount of taxes were paid to the Russian treasury last year as well.

EPL reports further that Aeroprom is owned by an Estonian-registered firm, OÜ Pottala, whose owner is Emeri Lepp – CFO at at Metaprint, as it happens.

In this way, the Russian business is formalized in the name of a Metaprint employee, but not legally within the same group as that company or of Metaprint's owner, Martti Lemendik, EPL states, while Lemendik owns an over 50 percent stake in both Metaprint and Stark Logistics, EPL adds.

In its reporting in Estonia, Pottala refers to itself as a micro-firm with assets below €30,000 and which in essence is inactive – the fact that it owns a major plant in Russia with an annual revenue of around €20 million is not mentioned in this report.

Arvo Hallik owns his 24.8 percent stake in Stark Logistics via Novaria Consult OÜ, which the prime minister lent €350,000 to, as reported earlier in the summer.

Ostensibly for investment purposes, it is reported that these funds were to be used in order to construct a new residential property.

Prime Minister Kallas has been an ever-present in the international media since the invasion began, notable for being one of the strongest voices calling for a tougher stance on Russia versus the perceived softness on the matter exhibited in some other European nations.

News portal Politico placed her fifth on its '"class of 2023" influential Europeans list.

Bloomberg and The FT have also reported on the current controversy.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: EPL

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