TALLINN - Tallinn Mayor Tonis Palts last week lashed out at the central bank chief and the bank's council, accusing the latter of failing to hold a meaningful discussion on a series of ethics-related issues involving bank governor Andres Lipstok.
Writing on his Web site, Palts, who sits on the Bank of Estonia's council, expressed indignation over what he suggested was a rigged no-confidence vote on Lipstok, who has come under scrutiny after his name was linked with business deals involving former Uhispank Chairman Ain Hanschmidt.
Hanschmidt has come under fire for buying a hefty stake in a company that owns a large interest in Tallink, a passenger shipping line, for a fraction of its real value.
Specifically, Palts was angered that a supervisory council discussion of Lipstok's relations with Hanschmidt and Uhispank was poorly organized and conducted in secrecy. The bank's council chairman, Mart Sorg, should even consider stepping down, the mayor suggested.
"The vote of confidence in Lipstok, hastily passed behind closed doors [Sept. 27], shows that a part of the bank council wants to assume some of the responsibility for his possible black deeds. I think the chairman of the bank's council, Mart Sorg, owes at least an explanation if not a resignation," said Palts, who did a brief stint as finance minister two years ago.
"Furthermore, I don't believe the rest of the Bank of Estonia's council has full trust in Lipstok. If this is so I am ashamed. And obviously I would resign from the bank council if I could be certain that I wouldn't be replaced with some person dealing in purchasable trust," Palts said.
Palts added that he did not take part in the meeting since he had not been notified in advance. "As I have many unanswered questions concerning Lipstok, I would definitely have turned up had I known the matter was going to be discussed," he said.
Lipstok has promised to resign from all private business positions that he currently holds.