The Central Criminal Police of the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) on Tuesday searched the offices of six companies involved in agriculture in order to investigate possible competition crime and the submission of false information to the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board (PRIA) in order to receive subsidies, regional daily Tartu Postimees reports.
According to the paper, the offices of agricultural machinery retailers Baltic Agro Machinery, Agriland, Tatoli and Dotnuva Baltic were among those searched.
The companies mentioned are among the top players in agricultural machinery sales in Estonia and command a large portion of the entire Estonian agricultural machinery market. In addition to company offices, the homes of eight private persons were also searched, and four people were arrested during procedural acts. The latter were released after providing statements.
The investigation, which aims to follow up on suspicions that companies were involved in competition-damaging cooperation by submitting quotes to apply for subsidies from PRIA, is being led by the North District Prosecutor's Office and conducted by the Estonian Competition Authority.
District Prosecutor Denis Tšasovskih explained that business owners are forbidden from entering into agreements with one another that damage free competition.
"Competition-damaging cooperation is used to avoid risks connected with regular business activity and modify the market, as well as mislead PRIA by giving the impression that the sums presented in the offers correspond with the actual market situation," he added.
Editor: Aili Vahtla