A document issued by the Bank of Estonia in 1995 that surfaced recently in the VEB Fund case may contain falsified data, but the matter will not be investigated by the public prosecutor, because the statute of limitations has expired.
Signed by Vahur Kraft, who was then the deputy governor of the Bank of Estonia and is currently the CEO of Nordea Bank Estonia, the document claimed that TSL International held a 420 million kroon claim against Vneshekonombank, or VEB. However, the VEB Fund's records show that the company had no claims against VEB. What's more, that figure amounted to approximately half the value of all the VEB Fund certificates.
"One starts to wonder if the claim attributed to TSL International in this letter included the government's and the Bank of Estonia's claims as well," stated the Public Prosecutor's Office.
According to Prosecutor General Norman Aas, the letter may qualify as forgery. "Providing false information in an official document may qualify as forgery from the point of view of penal power, meaning that there are enough grounds for suspicion to initiate criminal proceedings in this case," stated the Public Prosecutor's Office.
However, the public prosecutor will not be investigating the Bank of Estonia's conduct, because the statute of limitations has expired.
"The matter can still be pursued by journalists as well as the Bank of Estonia, which probably has the most information about these transactions," said Aas. According to Postimees, the Bank of Estonia has already announced that it will endeavor to get to the bottom of what happened to the VEB Fund.
Secondly, the National Audit Office could review the old audits in light of this new evidence, since that is not barred by the statute of limitations.
"Thirdly, Parliament could establish an investigative committee, which is something that was suggested already in 2004," said Aas. "Parliamentary investigative committees have the right to require that the relevant documents be submitted and summon witnesses who might have information about these transactions."
The VEB Fund was a mechanism established in 1993 to compensate businesses for deposits frozen in VEB 20 years ago. Originally, the fund placed all claimants on an equal footing, but a letter received from VEB on January 30, 1995, stated that only those VEB Fund certificate owners who are Russian residents can reclaim their frozen assets. The document suspected of containing falsified data was sent to VEB in response to that letter on April 5, 1995.
Previously, Rein Järvelill who liquidated the VEB Fund told the media that the frozen deposits which amounted to 420 million kroons were successfully exchanged for the VEB Fund certificates in 1997 and 1998.