The Tark Maja (smart house) competence center in the city of Rakvere is bankrupt. The foundation, which aimed to create connections between businesses, state, and educational institutions to develop the region economically, has been supported by Enterprise Estonia, which is now demanding some of the money back.
The foundation SA Virumaa Kompetentsikeskus (VKK), which is behind Tark Maja, received some €3.3 million from Enterprise Estonia over the years. According to daily Eesti Päevaleht, after a court declared it bankrupt, it turned out that the foundation’s communal debt of €25,000 had been what made it impossible to continue its business.
Enterprise Estonia has grounds to demand a large part of the support funds back, as the project had only been active for just over a year instead of the agreed five-year period of the support paid out to VKK. This increased the amount to be paid back from a few hundred thousand to €2.6 million, the paper wrote.
Though getting the money back might not be easy, it is far from impossible. Tark Maja’s building was built on land that belongs to the Rakvere city council, which granted the foundation the right to use it until 2025.
This leads to the unusual situation that any buyer of the foundation’s building will eventually have to take the city into account as well. This would affect the price of the building, liquidator Martin Krupp thinks, though it will likely find a buyer.
“It can happen that someone wants to buy a building that houses the city council. Think about it, you could say that you’ve got the city government of Rakvere at home—this could feel pretty good,” Krupp quipped.
The foundation’s last chairman, Rasmus Lindmaa, stated in court that he had not succeeded in putting VKK’s business model into practice under the given conditions. In Lindmaa’s view, Enterprise Estonia can be paid back from the assets to be liquidated. “We have over three million in fixed assets, namely the building itself,” Lindmaa said.
As Päevaleht points out, the foundation’s supervisory board reads like a list of the most important people in Lääne-Viru County’s local government. Members include Andres Jaadla (formerly of the Reform Party, now Center Party, mayor of Rakvere from 2002 to 2009, 2010 to 2012, and VKK’s supervisory board chairman from 2009 to 2012), Urmas Tamm (Center Party, member of the Rakvere city council and VKK’s supervisory board chairman starting from 2014), Mihkel Juhkami (IRL, on VKK’s supervisory board from 2009 to 2014 and Rakvere’s mayor since 2013), Toomas Varek (Reform Party, chairman of the Rakvere city council, on VKK’s board from 2012 to 2017), and businessman Jüri Reitsakas (on VKK’s board since 2010).
Editor: Dario Cavegn