TALLINN - The anti-corruption select committee of the Estonian parliament was given an overview on Monday by Minister of Finance Keit Pentus-Rosimannus of the fulfillment and termination of the agreement signed with US law firm Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP.
Chairman of the select committee Eduard Odinets said that the committee aknowledged that terminating the legal advisor contract is a complicated process where the parties to the agreement have diverging understanding of the situation, parliamentary spokespeople said.
"The law firm is seeking money from the Estonian state for the work conducted and also the payment of a contractual penalty for the rescission of the agreement; however, the ministry is doubting the content of the conducted work and has raised objections in relation to the corresponding invoices," Odinets said.
The select committee chairman said that the overview by the minister of finance showed that Estonia has paid Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LL close to 600,000 euros on the basis of submitted invoices. Nearly 200,000 euros' worth of work is yet to be delivered to the ministry. The size of the penalty payment is 2 percent of the cost of the contract, that is 60,000 euros.
Deputy chair of the committee Valdor Randpere said that Pentus-Rosimannus told the commitee that the ministry will not recognize the invoices without detailed explanations of the content of the work that has been carried out. The ministry does not acknowledge the penalty payment, either, due to the contract having been unilaterally terminated by Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP.
Randpere added that the finance minister said that the ministry's internal control is also examining the matter.
"If it should be discovered that the money has been paid but no service has been provided, I'd like to know if the obligation of payment of these sums can be imposed on the people who initiated and accepted said groundless payments," Randpere said.
The select committee also wants to meet Estonia's judicial attache in the United States Indrek Tibar in the near future. Tibar's area of expertise also includes prevention of money laundering.
The Estonian government decided on Feb. 18 to terminate the three-million-euro legal advisor contract agreement with Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan LLP signed by the previous government and to direct he money freed up upon the termination of the agreement towards the conduct of other anti-money laundering activities.