Health concerns cited as the reason why Andres Anvelt unexpectedly resigned as Minister of the Interior and quit the Social Democratic Party (SDE) last November may have been a pretext, weekly investigative Eesti Ekspress wrote on Wednesday, noting that the real reason may have been suspicion-inducingly close ties with businessman Anton Ger, who had been investigated by the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA).
Mr Anvelt himself has denied any connection between his resignation and Mr Ger, calling such claims revenge via journalism on the part of Hubert Hirv and Pavel Gammer, who are accused of leading a criminal gang.
Commenting on the allegations to the weekly paper, Mr Anvelt told the weekly that he did not leave politics due to any criminal activities.
The paper detailed the former minister's relationship with Mr Ger, publishing, among other things, a photo of Mr Ger posing in Mr Anvelt's police uniform, taken in the latter's home, and an SMS Mr Anvelt sent Mr Ger in 2010, when the latter was under investigation for money laundering, stating that the Prosecutor's office had ruled in Mr Ger's favour.
Last November, Mr Anvelt announced that he was resigning as Minister of the Interior, citing concerns over his health. A few months later, the longtime politician also unexpectedly left the SDE, sparking concerns over his actual motives.
Mr Anvelt had also declined to join the Riigikogu, where he had earned a seat with 3,558 in the 2015 elections.
"His departure was definitely not related to his health," said Kalle Laanet (Reform), himself a former Minister of the Interior. "You could read as much from his body language, when he announced at a press conference with a smile that he was leaving for health-related reasons."
Legal Affairs Committee meeting discusses Ger
On 19 November, one day before Mr Anvelt's sudden resignation, former police officer Aivar Orukask, who had also led the Analysis Department of the PPA's Financial Intelligence Unit, spoke before the Legal Affairs Committee of the Riigikogu. The minutes of this closed meeting are vague, but according to the paper, much of it centred around the close ties between Anton Ger and former top police officials, including Andres Anvelt.
Ten years ago, Mr Ger was under criminal investigation, and had he been found guilty, he would have become Estonia's biggest money launderer; one billion kroons, or €64 million, was involved. The court, however, found him not guilty.
When the Financial Intelligence Unit froze Mr Ger's business accounts over suspicions of money laundering, the businessman sought help from Mr Anvelt. "I helped this person at one point," Mr Anvelt told the paper.
On 30 June 2010, Mr Anvelt sent Mr Ger the following SMS, which was also included in Mr Ger's case file: "Greetings from sunny Spain! How are you doing? How did the Prosecutor's Office rule in your case? It was whispered to me on Skype that things will be OK."
Editor: Aili Vahtla