TALLINN - The trial of entrepreneur Tiiu Jarviste and her two fellow accused in a large-scale money laundering case began at the Harju County Court on Tuesday with all of the accused pleading not guilty to the charges.
Facing trial in addition to Jarviste, 56, are also Aleksei Dremov, 40, and Andrii Danchak, 37. A third male suspect in the same investigation, Andrei Stsemelev, is believed to be hiding in the United States and has been put on the international wanted list.
Public prosecutor Sigrid Nurm gave an overview of the statement of charges, followed by opening speeches by Jarviste's lawyer Oliver Naas, Dremov's lawyer Dmitri Skoljar and Danchak's lawyers Andres Simson and Stella Veber.
The trial is to continue on Wednesday with the examination of written evidence.
According to the charges lodged against Jarviste, Dremov and Danchak by the Office of the Prosecutor General on May 25, large-scale money laundering offenses had been committed by the trio through AS GFC Good Finance Company since May 2018.
According to the statement of charges, GFC Good Finance Company AS is a payment institution enabling predominantly non-resident customers to open accounts as well as make and mediate payments.
Jarviste, Dremov and Danchak are accused of laundering 2.88 million euros of dirty money. Pursuant to the company's internal rules and the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act, these transactions should not have been carried out.
Jarviste is additionally suspected of an attempt to embezzle close to eight million euros, according to public prosecutor Sigrid Nurm. Parallel proceedings in this matter had also been initiated in Latvia, and in order for the case to be handled more economically and prevent a double penalty, proceedings in the two states were joined and Estonia also took over the criminal case launched in Latvia.
No suspicions or charges have been lodged in the criminal case against Good Finance Company AS due to the company's liquidation having been underway when the criminal proceedings began. As at the time, the company was no longer engaged in any business activity, its bankruptcy has not affected the criminal proceedings, Nurm said.
Officials of Estonia's Central Criminal Police detained Jarviste, and Dremov and Danchak, employees of GFC Good Finance Company AS belonging to Jarviste, as suspects in money laundering in Dec. 9, 2019. Danchak was subsequently placed under arrest by Harju County Court whereas Dremov was released on parole with electronic monitoring.
State prosecutor Marek Vahing did not seek custody for Jarviste.
The Estonian Financial Supervision Authority (FSA) in spring 2019 stripped GFC of its license. The FSA said that GFC Good Finance Company AS had in recent years seriously breached the requirements of the Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act and the Payment Institutions and E-money Institutions Act. There had been wide-ranging problems in the operations of the payment institution in its anti-money laundering activities and its implementation of know-your-customer procedures.
The Harju County Court has announced the bankruptcy of GFC Good Finance Company AS.
The investigation was conducted by the Central Criminal Police and directed by the Office of the Prosecutor General.