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Justice minister to appoint special investigator in 90s VEB Fund case

Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu.
Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu. Source: (Siim Lõvi /ERR)

Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu (IRL) is appointing a special investigator in the case of claims against a fund out of the 1990s that was supposed to compensate creditors following the freezing of the assets of the Soviet Vnesheconombank (VEB) development bank.

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union and Estonian regained independence, the government froze the assets of Vnesheconombank in Estonia. As there were several companies and individuals at the time that had valid claims, it was decided to set up a state fund to compensate them, the so-called VEB Fund.

One of the complainants is AS Saare Kalur, a fishing company in Saaremaa. The company had $150,000 deposed in VEB for foreign currency transactions, but was never compensated by the VEB Fund.

Five members of the Riigikogu initiated a bill in September last year that would order the compensation of the remaining complainants. According to chairman of the parliament's Legal Affairs Committee, Jaanus Karilaid (Center), of originally more than ten complainants some five are still around, including four businesses and one individual.

According to Karilaid, there are supporters of the bill in all parties except for the Reform Party. What its chances are would become apparent in the discussion of the matter in the Legal Affairs Committee, he added.

The bill was handed in by representatives of the Center Party, the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE), and the Free Party.

Manager at AS Saare Kalur, Tiit Sarapuu, told regional paper Saarte Hääl that he is hoping that the intentions behind the bill are honest, as his company had waited 25 years to be compensated for its money in VEB.

Should the Riigikogu decide to adopt the bill, the company stands to win, as the interest on the principal over a period of more than 20 years will ramp up enough to make the eventual sum come in at more than €500,000.

Minister of Justice Urmas Reinsalu is of the opinion that the issue is serious enough to justify the appointment of a special investigator. What matters now is that the report on the VEB fund to be compiled is done by an independent party, Reinsalu said.

Reinsalu has offered the job to former minister of justice, Kaido Kama, who according to Reinsalu has accepted it.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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