Chocolate king fined for chopping trees

  • 2006-11-29
  • By Joel Alas
TALLINN - One of Estonia's most colorful businessmen, Oliver Kruuda, faces a fine of 250,000 kroons (15,974 euros) for allegedly slicing down one hectare of protected forest to improve his view.

Kruuda, who controls the Kalev chocolate factory and has numerous property interests, told reporters that he was not concerned about the prospect of a fine, which he could pay twice over.

The environmental damage was noticed last month when inspectors began questioning the destruction of trees and bushes in the Paaskula bog, a protected low-lying marshland near the wealthy outer suburb of Nomme.
The area, which is protected because of its environmental sensitivity, sat directly across from Kruuda's house and property.
Kruuda said he was "cleaning" the area to improve the appearance of the suburb.

He told newspapers that he was not phased by the fine because "money comes and money goes."
Kruuda's attitude toward the incident has angered many residents of Tallinn, who believe the news highlights the ability of rich businessmen to write-off illegal activity as a simple expense.

The Estonian Environmental Inspectorate said the logging took place with the full knowledge that the activity would be illegal.
It has assessed the damage to be worth 249,743 kroons, and has forwarded the matter to the prosecutor's office.
A spokesman for the Prosecutor's Office said it was still unsure whether it would launch a prosecution as it was yet to receive all the information from Environmental Inspectorate.

"Until we receive the papers we don't know whether we will prosecute Mr Kruuda or not," a spokesman for the Prosecutor's Office said.
The Baltic Times contacted Kruuda's office for comment but received no response.