Tallinn Circuit Court on Tuesday overturned the Nov. 30 Harju County Court verdict concerning the conviction of former North Estonia Medical Centre (PERH) CEO Tõnis Allik, fully acquitting him. The lower court's decision concerning the hospital's former IT chief Marko Kilk, however, remained unchanged.
Harju County Court's previous decision found Allik guilty of accepting a bribe from the software company Helmes, but acquitted him on other charges, including the accepting of gratuities and embezzlement in the form of a payment for plane tickets by the company P. Dussmann Eesti OÜ.
The circuit court agreed with the county court in that as the allegations did not contain blame regarding what exactly entailed the Oktoberfest entertainment trip, which the Prosecutor's Office believed was not a business-related customer event and who covered the expenses of the alleged entertainment events, then the plane tickets cannot be considered a perk in exchange for a favorable decision. In addition, the criminal case has also not disproved the justified suspicion that Allik participated in the trip in order to fulfill professional tasks.
The circuit court did not agree with the lower court, however, regarding the allegation that Allik accepted bribes. The circuit court determined that Allik did not participate in the work of the tender committees, and thus he had no part in making favorable decisions in public tenders.
"In a situation in which Allik's participation in tender proceedings has not been determined, it is impossible to agree with the stance of the allegations that when it comes to Allik, considering agreeing to and accepting vacations financed by Helmes AS as gratuity or bribes for him to participate, generally and without concretizing, as a management board member responsible in the information technology field as a supervisor of its functioning and also for ensuring future smooth cooperation," the court said in its decision.
Regarding Kilk, the circuit court changed the qualification, finding the ex-IT chief guilty of committing embezzlement as an official. The court left the rest of the county court decision unchanged, however — Kilk remained guilty of embezzlement and accepting gratuities, for which Harju County Court sentenced him to a conditional one year and three months.
Both the defendants as well as the prosecutor have filed appeals.
"I am satisfied with the fact that the circuit court agreed with the county court's stance that Marko Kilk must be convicted of embezzlement and the accepting of gratuities," Chief State Prosecutor Steven-Hristo Evestus told BNS. "The stance of the Prosecutor's Office is that Tõnis Allik's guilt has also been proven, and in that regard we intend to take this dispute to the Supreme Court."
In the appeal, Evestus filed for the cancellation of the Harju County Court decision in the part with which the first-tier court acquitted Allik. In addition, the prosecution filed for the application of a two-year ban from working in executive positions in fields linked with the healthcare sector as an additional punishment for Allik. The prosecution also filed for a change in qualification for Kilk.
Defense attorney Margus Kurm filed for the acquittal of both of his clients.
Allik, Kilk found partially guilty last fall
Last November, Harju County Court found Allik, ex-CEO of the largest hospital in Northern Estonia, guilty of accepting a bribe from the software company Helmes, but acquitted him on other charges. Kilk was found guilty of two charges and acquitted on a third. Neither defendant received an occupational ban.
Allik received a conditional sentence of one year and six months in prison; Kilk likewise received a conditional prison sentence.
Last May, the prosecution sought a two-year conditional sentence with three years of probation for Allik, and likewise demanded Allik be temporarily prohibited from holding an executive position at a medical institution as well as pay more than €11,000.
For Kilk, the prosecution sought a conditional sentence of one year and eight months with two years and six months of probation, likewise demanding that Kilk also be prohibited from holding an executive position in the IT field for two years.
Defendants in the trial, which began in April, included Allik, PERH IT director Marko Kilk and catering chief Anu Vahi, as well as catering service provider P. Dussmann Eesti OÜ and its chief executive Annela Stimmer. All defendants pleaded not guilty.
The lawyers representing Vahi, Stimmer and P. Dussmann Eesti requested that their episodes be separated from the case in order to pursue a plea deal with the prosecution. The prosecutor consented, and the court separated their episodes from the case.
The court then terminated proceedings for reasons of expediency regarding Vahi, P. Dussmann and Stimmer in April.
According to the charges, Allik repeatedly accepted bribes in return for ensuring over a period of several years that the company charged in the same case would remain the hospital's catering service provider. The hospital on several occasions concluded contracts with the accused company following public procurements. In return, the company paid for several of the ex-CEO's trips to Oktoberfest in Germany.
In addition, the Office of the Prosecutor charged Allik and Kilk with fraud and embezzlement. According to the charges, the two men went on vacations abroad together with family members at the expense and without the knowledge of the company that developed the hospital's information systems.
Allik resigned as CEO of PERH in June 2016.
Editor: Aili Vahtla