The prosecutor's office has directed to the courts a criminal case which charges former Riigikogu MP Martin Repinski of fraud, embezzlement and the abuse of trust.
The prosecution says that the charge relating fraud consists of the fact that, while working as an MP, Repinski submitted a request to get his rent reimbursed at his place of residence at a time when, according to the charge sheet, he was not actually residing at the address indicated in the request for expense compensation.
Moreover he was not liable for the rent related to that address at that time, the prosecutor's office says.
This led to, according to the charge sheet, losses to the Riigikogu office to the tune of of €12,119, between January 2021 and March 2022.
According to the prosecutor's office, Repinski also made use of a fuel card issued to MPs to reimburse fuel expenses relating to work trips in the course of working as an MP.
According to the indictment, Repinski purchased for personal use, and facilitated others to purchase, a total of 459 liters of diesel using the fuel card during the period November 2021 to April 2022, fuel which was not used in relation to his work as an MP.
The charge of abuse of trust substantively consists of a claim that, in March 2019, while working as Mayor of Jõhvi, Ida-Viru County, Repinski awarded without justification severance benefits to three officials who had left the city administration at their own request.
The Jõhvi municipality does not provide for additional compensation or officials leaving the service at their own request, yet according to the charge sheet, this was awarded to the three officials, to a total of six months-worth of wages.
As a result according to the indictment, Repinski caused damage to the municipality of €52,984.
State Prosecutor Alan Rüütel commented on the expense allowances of Riigikogu MPs, stating that these are a privilege, and whose usage must be transparent and fair.
Rüütel said "Members of the Riigikogu may use their expense allowances only as reimbursement for justified work-related expenses. According to the prosecutor's office, the evidence amassed suggests that the former MP deliberately used the expense allowances to ameliorate his own financial situation."
"Furthermore, Martin Repinski, when Jõhvi municipality mayor, was required to stand up for the municipality's financial interests, but according to the indictment, he in fact burdened the municipality with unjustified additional costs. The prosecution file the criminal case with the court, so that the court could reach a fair decision after evaluating all the evidence presented," he added.
Simultaneously, Jõhvi municipal government has filed a civil lawsuit against Repinski seeking damages of €93,458, while the Riigikogu office has also filed a civil lawsuit, seeking €12,701.
In the case of fraud committed by an elected official, courts may issue a penalty of between one and five years' imprisonment upon a conviction, while upon conviction of embezzlement and abuse of trust committed by an official, a court may issue either a fine or up to five years' prison time.
Repinski denies any wrongdoing
Martin Repinski himself told ERR's Russian-language portal that he would be pleading not guilty.
Repinski said: "What can I say about all these accusations? I fail to understand why the state wastes its resources on matters like this. I am pleading not guilty and I don't understand why all this is being carried out. In a just state, everything is decided in court. This sage has dragged on for quite a long time now, but now it is going to court. My lawyer and I will present our evidence of [my] innocence next."
That lawyer is sworn advocate Küllike Namm.
Repinski, 37, was twice elected to the Riigkogu and was an MP until the March 2023 election. He was Mayor of Jõhvi 2018 -2019; at that time he would not have sat at the Riigikogu, since local government officials may not retain their Riigikogu seat (though those sitting on local council chambers may do).
Repinksi was additionally Minister of Agriculture for brief period, in 2016).
He was a member of the Center Party from 2004 to 2013 and again from 2015 to 2022.
Editor: Andrew Whyte