The South district prosecutor's office wants the Tartu county court to mete out a pecuniary punishment of €10 million to grain processing company AS Tartu Mill for VAT fraud. The court is expected to announce a decision at the beginning of February.
Prosecutor Marek Vahing asked the court to find all three defendants guilty and to hand down a conditional jail sentence of four years with another four years' probation to Priit Saar, a prison sentence of nine years to Leonid Dulub, and a pecuniary punishment of €10 million to AS Tartu Mill.
The defense lawyers of all defendants asked the court to find their clients not guilty. The court is expected to announce its verdict on Feb. 2.
The case of Meelis Jürimäe was separated from the larger proceeding, as he struck a deal with the prosecutor. He was found guilty on Nov. 15 of belonging to a criminal group, and of having helped submit false data in tax declarations. He received a conditional sentence of three years with another three years' probation. He also has to pay €1,319 in procedural expenses.
Dulub, Saar, and AS Tartu Mill pleaded not guilty.
AS Tartu Mill has been charged with participation in a €1.2 million value-added tax fraud. The company considers the charge unjustified and argues that only a former employee was involved.
According to the statement of charges, AS Tartu Mill submitted false data in its VAT returns from January 2012 through September 2013. The company's former purchasing manager is accused of having run the fraudulent scheme with the help of an eight-member criminal group. The collected evidence indicates that members of the ring used more than 30 front companies to declare transactions which in reality never took place.
The companies billed AS Tartu Mill for those transactions, and the company transferred the money into their accounts controlled by the criminal group, from where the cash was moved on to the group's members, including AS Tartu Mill's purchasing manager. The cash was used to pay the real suppliers of grain and rape and to fund the group's operation, including payments made to its members.
Six members of the group were convicted in a plea bargain by the first-tier Tartu county court already in 2014.
Editor: Dario Cavegn