Nearly 400 corruption crimes registered in 2018, many in state sector ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

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The so-called "Superministry" building in Central Tallinn, which hosts the finance ministry among others. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

Altogether 378 corruption crimes were registered in Estonia in 2018, the largest number of which occurred in the state sector, the Ministry of Justice said.

Last year, the biggest number of corruption crimes were found in the state sector, followed by the private sector and local governments, Ministry of Justice spokesperson Maria-Elisa Tuulik told BNS.

According to the ministry, over half of the local government incidents were related to bribes or violations of procedural restrictions.

In the first nine months of 2019, meanwhile, a total of 64 corruption crimes have been registered, Tuulik noted.

Online courses to teach how to avoid conflict of interest

A series of online courses on the prevention of conflicts of interest has been created under the leadership of the Ministry of Justice for over 100,000 employees of the public sector.

"Our public sector employs approximately 130,000 people, and sooner or later they will face a conflict of interest," Minister of Justice Raivo Aeg (Isamaa) said.

"This means that there is a conflict between an official's official duties and private interests. This, in turn, can lead to corruption. However, such situations often go unrecognized — for example, when it comes to deciding on some planning in which the official themselves has a clear interest. This is why it is important to raise the public sector and the general public's awareness — to ensure that people know how to avoid a conflict of interest."

The best protection against corruption is awareness, the minister continued, as this makes meddlers' lives more difficult and prevents mistakes being made due to ignorance.

"That is why we want to offer everyone the opportunity for further self-development with the help of an online course," he added.

"Teaching all public sector employees in a classroom would be unimaginably resource-intensive," Aeg explained. "Oddly enough, e-learning has not yet been used much in the training of public sector employees, although it has many advantages over classroom learning. It is significantly more economical and flexible."

The objective of the course is to provide public sector employees with an easy way to gain the most relevant knowledge on corruption and the prevention of conflicts of interest. The course will provide answers to questions such as who is an official, who is subject to anti-corruption rules, what these rules are, when to retreat, who is a related person, what is lobbying, how to behave when influenced, and what is trading with influence.

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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