Court halts state's extradition of suspected fraudster

  • 2008-12-03
  • By Matt Withers

JUSTICE: Lawyer Leon Glikman (right), seen here with Justice Minister Indrek Teder, said an appeal would not hold any merit.

TALLINN - The Tallinn Administrative Court has overruled the Estonian government's order to extradite Marko Rudi, the Estonian suspected of embezzling over $1 million from U.S. government development funds for Iraq.
Rudi, a former leading consultant at auditing company Ernst & Young Baltic, was due to be extradited to the U.S. after the Harju County Court ruled in favor of the government at a hearing on Nov. 20.
Attorney at Law Leon Glikman, Rudi's defense lawyer, complained about the ruling and made an appeal to the higher ranking Tallinn Administrative Court, which in turn annulled the previous decision and ordered the government to account for Rudi's legal fees.

Under the Estonian legal system the government is now left with the option of contesting the administrative court's decision in the second-tier Tallinn Circuit Court if they wish to pursue the extradition.
However, Glikman, a Harvard Law School graduate and the Honorary Consul of Israel in Estonia, told The Baltic Times that this course of action is not likely to succeed.
"The government may appeal to the Circuit Court, but the appeal will not have merits as blatant violations of law established by court de facto exist without any doubts," the lawyer said.
"The government may refuse to extradite or to try to make a new extradition order. In that latter case the government must prove and substantiate that there is a particular overweighting interest to extradite Rudi," he said.

Glikman said that proving exceptional circumstances for Rudi's extradition is unlikely to happen, as the 33-year-old father of one does not pose any threat to society and as such he and his family are entitled to substantial citizenship rights.
Rudi was a former international finance officer at RTI (Research Triangle Institute), a North-Carolina based non-profit organization, which was bestowed U.S. government contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars in order to facilitate the rebuilding and democratization of Iraq.
Rudi quit his post in August 2005 's just one day after being confronted about irregularities discovered in a report, including disbursements from a contract with the U.S. Agency for International Development.
According to the report, Rudi was found to have approved "questionable amounts" paid to a Dubai software company and other firms.

The federal filings say the Dubai-based company, Business Systems House FZ-LLC, and related firms bought Rudi a house in Durham shortly after he helped award the subcontractor $7.2 million worth of work for RTI.
Rudi was arrested and detained in September this year at the request of U.S. legal aid. Monika Magi, his previous defense lawyer, described the arrest as premature and applied for his release at both the county and circuit courts to no avail.

The Estonian government is yet to announce what action it will take following the court's ruling. Justice Ministry spokeswoman Diana Kommus told the Baltic News Service on Dec. 1 that as the government representative had not received the decision yet, it was impossible for her to comment on his next move.