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Criminal organization laundered money in Estonia, daily reports

Estonia's tax-to-GDP ratio was 34.7 in 2016, according to the OECD.
Estonia's tax-to-GDP ratio was 34.7 in 2016, according to the OECD.

A ruling of the Harju county court entered into force last week that found seven men guilty of money laundering and establishing a criminal organization. In an investigation that involved working with the authorities of the Baltic as well as Nordic countries, an international criminal network was discovered.

As daily Eesti Päevaleht reported on Thursday, the men laundered money made in tax fraud schemes in Finland and Sweden using several different companies in Estonia.

The group dealt in platinum, gold, and silver, and its illicit transactions caused damage in the amount of more than €2 million in Finland and more than €4 million Sweden. According to what the authorities were able to uncover, €1.2 million were laundered.

Their approach was to manipulate their businesses’ accounting, thereby reducing the amount of tax owed to the Finnish and Swedish state and increasing the tax rebates the businesses got from the two countries’ revenue services. The money made this way was then guided through several different companies in Estonia as well as elsewhere. The group was active from early 2015 to spring 2017.

The Estonian involvement in the investigation only concerned the part of the criminal network that was active here. The investigation of the whole organization was carried out by an international group in which Finnish, Swedish, Latvian, and Polish authorities also participated.

The investigation in Finland is still ongoing. In Sweden the first court ruling has been handed down, now subject to an appeal. The Estonian side was able to close its own money laundering investigation despite the case still being open in other countries.

The seven men convicted in Estonia previously agreed to a plea bargain and received a four-year conditional prison sentence followed by five years on parole. Five of them also received an unconditional prison sentence of six months.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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