Crime, Estonia, Latvia, Legislation

International Internet Magazine. Baltic States news & analytics Tuesday, 16.07.2019, 13:43

Estonian prosecutor's office not to take over Skinest Rail bribery case from Latvia

BC, Tallinn, 16.01.2019.Print version
The Office of the Prosecutor General of Estonia decided not to take over the criminal procedure of the bribery case of Skinest Rail, Estonian company owned by businessman Oleg Ossinovski, and returned the materials to the Latvian colleagues, reported LETA/BNS.

A Latvian court decided in January 2018 that the case of Skinest Rail will be separated from the bribery case of Ugis Magonis, former CEO of Latvian Railways, and sent to an Estonian court for trial, while the trial over Ossinovski himself will continue in Latvia.

Olja Kivistik, adviser at the Office of the Prosecutor General, told that according to the Penal Code in effect, it is not possible to handle independently only act of a legal person.

"As the accusation against natural person Oleg Ossinovski, who is connected with the company AS Skinest Rail, is still being handled by a court of the Republic of Latvia, it is not possible for the Republic of Estonia to carry out a criminal procedure against Skinest Rail," Kivistik said.

According to the Office of the Prosecutor General, taking over the criminal procedure would not help along identifying the truth and would essentially mean carrying out parallel proceedings in Latvia and Estonia.

A representative of Skinest Rail at the hearing back then asked the judge to separate the Estonian company's case from the Magonis bribery case. The Skinest Rail representative argued that under the Latvian Criminal Procedure Law legal entities that are registered in foreign countries cannot be tried in Latvian courts and have to stand trial in their countries of registration. The representative also said that in order to hear the case, it will be necessary to summon at least 12 witnesses who are Estonian citizens, and the company needs an audit which can only be carried out in Estonia.

The judge of the Limbazi court granted the request, but dismissed a request made repeatedly by the lawyers of Ossinovski to also separate the case of Ossinovski for hearing in Estonia. Jelena Kvjatkovska, lawyer for Ossinovski, asked permission for his client to participate in future court proceedings by means of video conferencing. This request was partially granted, with the judge indicating that Ossinovski will still be required to attend some hearings in person, but that he will be able to use video conferencing in other proceedings.

The court of the Limbazi region of Latvia in September 2017 decided to lift the ban on Magonis to meet with Oleg Ossinovski. Also, at the request of Magonis' lawyer, the bail for Magonis was reduced from 400,000 euros to 200,000 euros. The court rejected the lawyer's request to lift the ban on Magonis to leave the country.

Officials of the Latvian Corruption Prevention Bureau detained Magonis in summer 2016. The head of the railway company is suspected of accepting a bribe of 500,000 euros from Ossinovski in reward for LDz Ritosa Sastava Serviss, a subsidiary of the Latvian state owned railway company, purchasing four old locomotives for several million euros from Skinest.

Both Magonis and Ossinovski have previously claimed they are not guilty of the crimes they have been charged with. The Estonian millionaire has admitted giving the money to Magonis, but for an entirely different purpose.

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