Ex-Danske chief's death ruled suicide, police admit errors in investigation

Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE).
Minister of the Interior Mart Helme (EKRE). Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

A police inquiry has stated unequivocally that former Danske Bank Estonia chief Aivar Rehe's death was the result of suicide, according to interior minister Mart Helme (EKRE).

"In this case, all the legally-prescribed investigative activities and procedural acts were carried out, and have also been recorded in an appropriate and verifiable manner," Helme said, according to BNS. 

Aivar Rehe took his own life in the back yard of his home in the Pirita district of Tallinn, probably in the morning of Sept. 23 and most likely that day. His body lay undiscovered until the Wednesday, however, and a large-scale search ensued from Monday afternoon when Rehe's family reported him missing.

Media reports on the day Rehe's body was found tentatively stated that suicide was the casue, though this was not confirmed until collecting the forensic evidence and conducting the coroner's report had been finalized.

While the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) examined the yard visually, this took place from inside the house itself. Rehe's body was not spotted, since the it had fallen from the tree on which he reportedly hanged himself, after the rope or similar material had snapped.

This reportedly happened some time during the Monday, before family members returned home themselves.

The coroner's report puts Rehe's death at between 24 and 48 hours of the discovery of his body, but cannot pinpoint the time of death further.

Forensic experts say there are no discrepancies, based on the collected evidence, between the position of the body as found, the condition of the body and clothing, materials used in the suicide and marks left behind on the tree used.

Aivar Rehe headed up Danske's Estonian branch during the peak years of alleged illicit funds flowing through its portals, 2007-2015. As much as €230 billion in potentially laundered money is thought to have been moved via Danske during that time, with some of it allegedly passing between Danske and Swedbank's Tallinn branch. Investigations are ongoing.

Danske shut its doors for good in Estonia last week, having been ordered to do so by the Financial Supervisory Authority earlier in the year. The scandal also took the scalp of Norwegian Thomas F. Borgen, former CEO in the bank's home country of Denmark. Borgen stepped down last September.

Police admit mistakes

The PPA have also admitted that mistakes occurred in their searches following Rehe's reported disappearance, not least failing to conduct a thorough search of the yard, which is only a fraction of an acre in area and consists mostly of lawn, abutting on to neighboring gardens.

Both the PPA and the Ministry of the Interior, however, have ruled out a connection between the Danske investigation and Rehe's death.

"Aivar Rehe was not a suspect, but a witness, and there has been no development in the investigation that has anything to do with him. Police are continuing their investigation into money laundering," a statement reads, according to ERR's online news in Estonian.

Download the ERR News app for Android and iOS now and never miss an update!

Editor: Andrew Whyte

Hea lugeja, näeme et kasutate vanemat brauseri versiooni või vähelevinud brauserit.

Parema ja terviklikuma kasutajakogemuse tagamiseks soovitame alla laadida uusim versioon mõnest meie toetatud brauserist: