Kallas' words contradict Bank of Estonia documents

Kunagine Eesti Panga president Siim Kallas teatas eelmisel nädalal, et pärast 1992.–1993. aasta pangakriisi lahendamist kaotas ta VEB fondi vastu huvi, mistõttu ei tea ta midagi selleteemalisest kirjavahetusest. Siiski leidub tema allkirju ka näiteks 1995. aastal koostatud dokumentidel. PHOTO: Repro

Even though former Bank of Estonia governor Siim Kallas said last week that he knew nothing about the central bank's correspondence regarding VEB Fund, documents made public by the central bank suggest that the words said by Kallas are not quite accurate, Postimees said.

Together with the report of the findings of  an audit related to VEB Fund the central bank last week made public a nuber of documents one of which is a letter to the Bank of Estonia from Vneshekonompank (VEB), the former Soviet Union's bank for hard currency. The letter dated January 30, 1995 is addressed to the president of the Bank of Estonia, "K. Siim."

Leaving aside the misunderstanding concerning the Estonian's first name and surname, it appears from the same document that Kallas has on Feb. 9, 1995 endorsed the letter with his signature, the newspaper writes. Next to the signature of the Bank of Estonia's then governor stands the signature of Enn Teimann, then manager of the state-held VEB Fund and deputy to Kallas at the central bank. Teimann has added to his signature the remark: "Mr L. Zernant. (PEP) Let's discuss how to act. No need to hurry."

"This represents the usual chain of command where the recipient of the letter, Siim Kallas, forwarded the letter for fulfilment to his subordinate responsible for VEB Fund, Enn Teimann. Since the register was kept at Pohja-Eesti Pank (PEP, North Estonian Bank), Teimann sent the letter on to the person responsible for the relevant area at PEP," Bank of Estonia spokesperson Ingrid Mitt told the newspaper citing experts at the central bank.

Mitt was referring to the register of VEB Fund. In the said letter Vneshekonombank (VEB) asked for information from Estonia about legal persons being residents of Russia that had money frozen at VEB.

The Bank of Estonia responded to the VEB letter on April 5, 1995. By that date Kallas had won a parliamentary seat on the ticket of the Reform Party and was being substituted for in an ad-interim capacity by Vahur Kraft. It's because of this that the letter sent from the Bank of Estonia to VEB bears Kraft's signature. In the letter the Bank of Estonia informed that the size of the claim by the Russian company TSL International on VEB was 32.3 million dollars, even though it actually was 0 dollars, said Postimees.

Kallas, the EU Transport Commissioner and vice president of the European Commission, said in an article published in Friday's issue of Postimees that after the resolution of the 1992-1993 banking crisis he lost active interest in VEB Fund and the organization of its work and therefore knows nothing about the correspondence linked with it.

"It had become unequivocally clear to me that we were not going to recover anything from Vneshekonombank . Because of that I did not handle and know nothing about the correspondence on this topic," Kallas said adding that he also lacks information about the subsequent period and therefore is not in a position to voice an opinion on documents signed by other persons and issued in the central bank's name after he left the bank.

In Kallas' words, his next personal encounter with the VEB Fund topic occurred in 1999 when he held the finance portfolio and a businessman came to see him. "He made a simple proposal - think out a plan so that the Republic of Estonia assumed the obligations of Vheshekonombank and paid out the money to holders of VEB Fund certificates," he said.

Kallas thinks it's a good idea to set up a special parliamentary committee to deal with the issue as an inquiry to find out about past transactions connected with VEB Fund can be conducted in peace and with the help of financial auditors within its framework.

The Bank of Estonia recently published the findings of its audit according to which a document was drawn up at the central bank in 1995 showing falsely that the Russian company TSL was entitled to 32.3 million dollars of the funds frozen as money of Estonian companies at VEB, the former Soviet Bank for Foreign Trade.

The central bank said in the audit conclusions that it was not possible to establish who in the chain of creation of the letter caused the inclusion of incorrect data in the document. Although all the transactions that had taken place could be traced it was not possible to find out the reasons and explanations for all of them.