Public officials 'abuse' their positions

  • 2008-07-16
  • By Marge Tubalkain-Trell
TALLINN - The litany of alleged  corruption by public servants continued  as  the prosecutors offices' in two separate cases charged  a bailiff of embezzlement and a former mayor of  mishandling public funds.
The Viru district prosecutor has charged a former bailiff with embezzling nearly 2 million kroons (about 128,000 euros).

Maarika, 32, whose full name cannot be revealed for legal reasons, worked as a bailiff from 2001 to 2003. She was responsible for filing documents, handling property transactions and forwarding funds to debt collectors.
In 2003, the Ministry of Justice's internal control department started a disciplinary investigation and found shortages in Maarika's transactions. She was removed from her position and the Security Police Board began a criminal investigation. Maarika was not placed under arrest during the pre-trial investigation.

The investigation found 1,495 instances in which Maarika did not transfer the money she had collected 's over 1.8 million kroons. The investigation also found 49 cases in which leftover funds totaling 32,180 kroons were not returned to debtors after their obligations had been fulfilled. The missing cash totaled over 1.88 million kroons, the investigation found.

Mari Luuk, spokesperson for the Viru district prosecutor, said the pre-trial investigations took so long because they required extensive review of complex accounting procedures. The investigation was completed this spring and the prosecutor charged Maarika in the beginning of July.
"That money never got to the victims. But where she put the money, I cannot tell. That will be revealed in court," said Luuk.

"She betrayed the trust that was given to her, because as a bailiff she had certain rights to move that money in the acts of execution," said Luuk.
If convicted, Maarika faces a fine or up to five years in jail.
Meanwhile in Johvi  the prosecutor's office named a former mayor as  suspect in a case which caused the city to lose more than 2.7 million kroons.
A spokesperson for the Viru regional prosecutor's office said formal suspicion was brought against Aavo Keerme last week.

Prosecutor Antti Aitsen said the pre-trial inquiry in this criminal case has not yet been completed and the investigator has been ordered to carry out additional procedural acts in connection with the suspect's testimony.
Prosecutors claim that Keerme  altered tender conditions  in February 2004 when awarding a  contract to the N&V company to maintain streets and parks.
The city government had to pay 2.7 million kroons more for the work than in the original bid.  If convicted Keerme faces a jail term of up to 12 months.