Businessman linked to former EKRE member rejects irregular dealings charges
Businessman Hugo Osula has given his side of the story regarding former Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) member Endel Oja's company and his relationship with it, saying he rejects the notion Oja would be involved in the financial wrong-doing he has been accused of. Urmas Sõõrumaa, another major businessman linked to Oja, said his company had only had passing cooperation.
As reported on ERR News, it emerged on Tuesday that Oja had submitted an invoice for €10,000 to architects Kadarik Tüür in relation to consultancy work on their design for public broadcaster ERR's new TV house. The invoice was a complete surprise to Ott Kadarik of Kadarik Tüür, he said, and no consultancy work from Oja's company was required.
The coalition government announced in mid-August that it would provide €22 million for the construction of the new TV house, an item which appeared in the state budget unveiled last week. However, Oja's offer of consultancy work predated the announcement, leading to implications that he had acted on inside information to benefit his own firm.
Oja had visited Kadarik Tüür's office several times through July, it is reported, and said Tuesday that his aim had been to source a public-private partnership arrangement to help with the project, given that state funds were tight, in his view.
Oja left EKRE in September at the party board's suggestion. He had joined the party in 2017, following which Astrohouse OÜ's client list, turnover and profit had seen a substantial jump.
Two of the major clients dealing with Astrohouse after 2017 were Mootor Grupp AS, owned by Hugo Osula, and US Invest OÜ, owned by Sõõrumaa.
Osula: I Don't believe the claims
Sõõrumaa told ERR Wednesday that while US Invest employees had met Oja, no money had been exchanged.
"This was a matter of potential customers and mediating buying interests, but we did not strike a specific contract and there was no financial relationship between us," Sõõrumaa said.
Hugo Osula said that Oja carried out an analysis of the Estonian mobility market for Mootor Grupp about a year and a half ago.
"Among other things, he assessed the role of Rail Baltica. This was a nearly 100-page overview of Estonian legislation, development plans and projects, plus everything that has been adopted in Estonia and will affect the future mobility market," Osula said.
At the same time, he said he did not believe the charges against Oja.
"I simply don't believe it. He is not stupid. I have known Endel Oja for many years; he is an economist. Such a thing is out of the question," Osula noted.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte