A company belonging to Finance Minister Toomas Tõniste (IRL) is suspected to be involved in a case of benefit fraud in which the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board (ARIB) was cheated out of almost half a million euros. Tõniste himself is not a suspect.
According to information available to ETV's Aktuaalne kaamera newscast, courts have seized two properties in the ownership of a business belonging to Toomas Tõniste, Estonia's new minister of finance who assumed office just yesterday.
The Prosecutor's Office apparently suspects the properties to have been improved using up to half a million euros paid out by ARIB. Though Tõniste himself is not a suspect in the case, his brother-in-law and business partner Erik Nigola is, who allegedly defrauded ARIB of some €500,000.
The preliminary investigation in the case is not yet finished. As prosecutor Eve Olesk explained to Aktuaalne kaamera on Tuesday, three suspects are currently under investigation.
“Erik Nigola is suspected of benefit fraud, based on the fact that ARIB was defrauded of almost half a million euros,” Olesk told Aktuaalne kaamera. She confirmed that Toomas Tõniste is not a suspect, but that a business belonging to him is one of three persons the investigation is looking into.
Finance Minister Toomas Tõniste told Aktuaalne kaamera in a written statement on Tuesday that the whole affair was “regrettable”, and that he had suffered considerable losses himself, not to mention the stress he had been under.
“It has always been my interest that the authorities find out the truth. To that end, I am and have been ready to cooperate with the authorities in any way necessary,” Tõniste wrote.
Editor: Dario Cavegn