Prime minister signed off on loan to husband shortly after Metaprint visit

Kaja Kallas talking to the media after a Reform Party board meeting held at the Riigikogu on on Friday. September 8, 2023.
Kaja Kallas talking to the media after a Reform Party board meeting held at the Riigikogu on on Friday. September 8, 2023. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) signed an agreement concerning a loan she made to her husband just days after visiting a company at the heart of the current controversy concerning the business interests of her spouse, Arvo Hallik.

ERR News reported in summer that the prime minister had loaned Hallik €350,000 for "investment purposes." It transpires that the loan itself was issued early on in 2022.

Riigikogu Anti-Corruption Select Committee member Tõnis Mölder (Center) says the committee, investigating the case, has incomplete information in that it has not received bank statements indicating the loan has been fully repaid, and on what dates.

Mölder said that: "There is misleading public information which implies that Kaja Kallas has provided complete information regarding loan agreements, and their content."

"The committee has at its disposal one loan agreement and its two addenda, concerning sums in the order of €350,000," Mölder went on.

"As to statements that Kallas herself has made, to the effect that she has provided [Hallik's] company with an additional €20,000 in loans this year, the committee does not have any contractual information, bank statements or documentation to that effect," Mölder said.

Arvo Hallik's company, Novaria Consult, was the recipient of the loans; via Novaria, Hallik had a 24.8 percent stake in Stark Logistics – a transport firm which had been transporting items to the Russian Federation after the February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, and down to the present.

The items, components which go to make aerosol cans, are not the subject of sanctions on Russia, though assembled aerosols are – the parts would then be assembled as finished cans inside Russia.

The company which produced these aerosol components, Metaprint, in turn was the firm which Kallas visited on January 28 2022, days before the loan to Hallik/Novaria was issued.

In any case, Metaprint's owner, Martti Lemendik, is the majority shareholder in Stark Logistics, so the companies are related.

As noted, in June this year it was reported that Kallas had made a €350,000 loan to Novaria, but now it is clear that the contract to that effect was signed shortly after the Metaprint visit.

Tõnis Mölder of the Riigikogu anti-corruption committee added that with regard to the €350,000 loan, Kallas has stated publicly that this has been paid back in full.

"We are left to believe Kallas' words," Mölder said.

"As for the €20,000, Kallas has also publicly said that this loan has not been returned, but since we also do not have an overview of the loan agreement, it is difficult to comment on when it was issued and when it must be paid back," Mölder went on.

A sum of €22,000 has also been cited.

Kallas had appeared before the same anti-corruption committee on September 4 and said at the time she could not state exactly when she issued her husband's company with the loan, but stated it had been repaid, in full and with interest, this year.

She also said that she has not yet received back €22,000 lent to Novaria Consult this year.

Meanwhile Arvo Hallik has pledged to sell his stake in Stark Logistics in the wake of the controversy – the prime minister subsequently said that this would be for a nominal sum.

Whereas two weeks ago, Hallik told ERR that that transaction was in the process of being formalized, according to the commercial register, that still has not happened and Hallik remains a board member at Stark Logistics.

The final installment of the €350,000 loan repayment was paid on August 21, shortly before the story first broke but after ERR had asked Hallik about the logistical services provided on behalf of Metaprint and into the Russian Federation.

ERR sent its queries to Arvo Hallik regarding the transport activities to Russia on August 18; the prime minister said she first learned about them on August 20. Thus, the last loan repayment was made after ERR and the rest of the media interest in Stark Logistics' business activities had begun.

The prime minister last week filed the loan agreement with the anti-corruption committee for review; Tõnis Mölder told ERR that this agreement had been signed "a few days after" January 28, 2022.

No other documentation has been forwarded by Kallas in respect of the €350,000 loan, Mölder said, adding he cannot disclose the exact repayment terms in the loan agreement.

Kallas herself said that the loan was repaid in three installments.

Another Riigikogu Anti-Corruption Select Committee member, Priit Sibul (Isamaa), said that the loan repayment dates had been June 15, July 20 and August 21, this year.

Hallik also retains a 30 percent share in Stark Warehousing which he says he intends to retain, and which Metaprint also has a 30-percent stake in.


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Editor: Karin Koppel, Andrew Whyte

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