Port of Tallinn bribery case defendant handed conditional jail sentence

Port of Tallinn trial in process.
Port of Tallinn trial in process. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Harju County Court handed Valdo Õunap a conditional jail sentence Thursday, the first decision in the trial of former managers of part state-owned Port of Tallinn (Tallinna Sadam), which began on May 7. Õunap was the only defendant in the case who did not plead not guilty.

The court convicted Õunap for aiding bribe-giving and money laundering activity, handing him a conditional jail sentence of two years and six months, BNS reports.

State prosecutor Laura Feldmanis read the statement of charges on May 8, which all the defendants except Õunap, pleaded not guilty to. In mid-May, Õunap filed an application to commence a plea bargain.

Case details

The trial followed a three-year criminal investigation by the Internal Security Service (ISS/Kapo).

Former managers Allan Kiil and Ain Kaljurand are accused of accepting substantial bribes, and of money laundering. The alleged offenses were committed between 2005 and 2015.

Former head of Port of Tallinn's service department, Martin Paide, is also accused of bribe-taking. Seven more individuals and two businesses are also accused of bribery, as well as of being complicit in a corruption case, including Jan Paszkowski, a Polish national and former member of the management board of Polish shipbuilding company Remontowa Shipbuilding. Paszkowski's trial is set to be conducted in his native country, it is reported.

According to the statement of charges, Kiil and Kaljurand accepted large bribes from individuals and businesses, aimed at maintaining good relations with Port of Tallinn.

Over the course of a decade, they agreed, acting together as well as separately, to accept bribes totalling almost €4 million, it is alleged.

The bulk of the alleged bribes, €3 million, concerns promises made to Kiil by representatives of Turkish and Polish shipbuilding companies, being awarded ferry contracts for Port of Tallinn subsidiary TS Laevad.

According to the charges, Paide was ready to accept a bribe of more than €40,000, Kaljurand, ten times that at approximately €400,000 and Kiil nearly ten times that, at €3.5 million.

Paide and Kaljurand reportedly received the entirety of their agreed bribe money, but Kiil only received approximately €2 million before his arrest.

Kiil and Kaljurand were arrested on Aug. 26, 2015, but were released at the beginning of 2016.

The other defendants, in addition to Kiil, Kaljurand, Paide, Õunap and Paszkowski, are Eno Saar, Tõnis Pohla, Ullar Raad, Sven Honga and Toivo Promm, as well as two companies, HTG Invest AS and Keskkonnahoolduse OÜ, BNS reports.

Lawyer's view

According to lawyer Paul Keres, the accusations of bribe-taking were without merit.

Kaljurand has at no point been employed as an official at Port of Tallinn, and thus cannot be accused of accepting bribes as an official, Keres said shortly after the trial commenced, adding that the 250-pages of charges from the prosecutor's office against Kaljurand provide no evidence of any purported quid pro quo agreements involving the defendant.

As well as a lack of focus and concreteness, the statement fails establish the time and place of any supposed quid pro quo agreements, or the specific contents thereof, Keres said, adding that he was certain that, when it comes to the portion of the accusation regarding bribe-taking, the question is one of legal interpretation and that even if the prosecutor's office has all their facts right in this regard, Kaljurand must still be acquitted.

The trial of the remaining defendants, aside from Õunap and Paszkowski, is to resume in accordance with regular procedure.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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