HKScan owners under investigation in Estonia as well
While it was previously only known that the Office of the Prosecutor General had launched a criminal investigation into the activities of Teet Soorm, the former CEO of the Estonian unit of Finland's HKScan, the company's owners are also under investigation as well, weekly Eesti Ekspress reported.
At the end of December, State Prosecutor Marek Vahing launched an investigation to determine whether statements by Soorm regarding large-scale tax fraud were true. Soorm said when questioned by the Central Criminal Police that the Finnish parent company took tens of millions of euros out of Estonia over a period of several years without paying taxes on them.
"No suspicion has been launched against anybody," Prosecutor's Office spokesperson Harry Tuul told the paper.
The Finnish owners of the food group have issued no statements regarding the investigation, and it is possible that they are unaware of it, the weekly said.
Anne Mere, who was appointed CEO of HKScan Estonia after Soorm, said that the Estonian Tax and Customs Board (MTA) was indeed interested in the activities of HKScan, and that the most recentl letter she had received from the authority arrived last week. She added, however, that she knew nothing about Vahing's investigation.
In Estonia, a company is required pay income tax when it pays out profits in the form of dividends. HKScan did not collect any dividends in Estonia, but still easily got money from Estonia, the newspaper wrote. Estonian profit was "loaned" to the parent company, and every year, the deadline for paying back the "loan" was extended.
For instance, in 2010, the parent company owed €9 million, and the deadline for paying back the loan was the end of 2012. One year later, the owed sum was still €9 million, but the deadline had been postponed until the end of 2013. Yet another year later the, loaned sum was still €9 million euros, and the deadline the end of 2014, the paper wrote.
Editor: Aili Vahtla