Ministry of Interior has no plans to tighten regulations on charitable donation

Henri Laupmaa.
Henri Laupmaa. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Notwithstanding recent controversies over the destination of donated funds, particularly to Ukraine, there are no plans to tighten the regulations governing charities and donations platforms in Estonia at present, ETV news show "Aktuaalne kaamera," (AK) reported Wednesday.

The relevant authority here is the Ministry of the Interior.

AK reported that "almost all" charitable organizations using donations platforms in Estonia have been affected by potential embezzlement activity.

The most recent case saw the platform and its associated bank account administered by a single individual, businessperson Henri Laupmaa (pictured), taking his time with ensuring €225,000 in funds donated for the purchase of GPS-blocking counter measure tech, to be fitted to drones being shipped to Ukraine, reached its intended beneficiaries.

To date, just under half that sum has been received, while the balance was due at the start of this week, but has not yet been forthcoming.

Ministry of the Interior advisor Marten Lauri said, however, the frequency of cases has not reached a level where regulations require changing – though the ministry is prepared to strengthen checks should more incidents come to light.

"Charities like these are subject to certain checks by the Tax and Customs Board, which looks at whether the 2,000-plus organizations continue to act as charities, or not. At the moment, we believe that this is sufficient," Lauri told AK.

One of the leaders of the Ukraine donation drive, former Reform MP Eerik-Niiles Kross, told AK that while the recent tale was a sad, but teachable moment, he, too, does not favor more rigorous checks.

Kross said: "Certainly this can be done in a way to ensure donors are more protected, along with requirements of checks into whoever it is that physically collects the funds, and so on."

"But that's not really the point of ​​this kind of venture; in that case it would transform into something else /.../ These donations tend to be passion-fueled, civic society initiatives, and as such they also have value in their own right, where people come together and help people, together; it's this type of labor tradition," he went on.

Laupmaa himself declined to appear on camera, and instead provided AK with an audio statement, in which he said that: "Unfortunately, it was not possible to pay the total amount in relation to the campaign this week.

"I am very sorry that I have made miscalculations and mistakes which have led to the current situation, whereby we will have to make the payouts for the campaign in installments," he went on.

"I take full responsibility for the situation that has arisen, and I will do everything I can to resolve it, as soon as possible. I apologize to all those affected."

Another organization, the NGO Slava Ukraini, hit the headlines in summer after revelations of misused funds led to its director, Johanna-Maria Lehtme, to step down as an Eesti 200 MP. Lehtme's Riigikogu election campaign had expressly referenced her as a "helper of Ukraine."

Slava Ukraini's current manager, Anu Viltrop, told AK the organization's transparency had been improved since then, including a monthly overview of expenses being provided, decisions made by committee rather than unilaterally, and a new statute having been drawn up.

Viltrop encouraged other, similar organizations to practice similar principles, including sharing an overview of the receipt of funds with donors.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera,' reporter Iida-Mai Einmaa.

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