Hearing of Autorollo case postponed until Sept 10

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The hearing of the criminal case of Vaino Pentus and Siim Roode in connection with the insolvency of the Estonian road haulage company OU Autorollo was supposed to start in the Harju county court on Tuesday but was postponed until Sept. 10.

The court could not start with the hearing because Roode had switched his defense lawyer who needed additional time to get familiar with the case files.

Roode's defense lawyer Natalia Lausmaa said that she became his defense lawyer on Aug. 13 and since it is a big case she needs at least one month to get familiar with the case files.

According to North district prosecutor Vallo Kariler postponing the hearing by one month is not founded, mainly because witnesses have been summoned to the court by Sept. 3 and on Sept. 10 an important witness is to come from Russia. Postponing the hearing by a month makes summoning witnesses complicated, he added.

The witness who is coming from Russia allegedly received a loan from Autorollo, but according to the person that is not true. According to Kariler the person has obtained a visa for coming to Estonia to testify on Sept. 10.

Siim Roode, who has been charged with a criminal offense in connection with the Autorollo case, said on Monday that he is not pleading guilty.

According to Roode the court has to say whether the advice he gave was illegal.

Vaino Pentus, the owner and manager of Autorollo, refused to comment on the case on Monday.

The Harju county court is to start discussing the criminal case of Pentus and Roode on Tuesday. Pentus, owner and manager of Autorollo, and Roode, the barrister who dealt with the insolvency, are accused of actions resulting in a significant deterioration in the company's solvency and aggravation of permanent insolvency, as well as use of counterfeited documents. Pentus has been additionally charged with violation of the obligation to maintain accounts and embezzlement.

Pentus was the sole owner and board member of OU Autorollo from July 28, 2008. On April 26, 2010, Roode became the company's sole owner and de-facto manager. According to the charge sheet, the financial situation of the company was very bad by the time it changed hands and Roode together with Pentus arranged for moving assets out of the business to prevent their sell-off against claims by creditors and to free Pentus of a personal guaranty of loans. The removal of assets mainly had to do with the removal of four trucks and 11 trailers from the asset list of OU Autorollo.

According to the charges, OU Autorollo thereby lost title to property worth at least 2.36 million kroons (EUR 151,000) but was relieved of obligations worth just 0.88 million kroons. The damage thus caused to the company by Pentus and Roode amounted to 1.5 million kroons or 94,000 euros.

Besides Roode and Pentus used fake loan agreements in the company's bookkeeping to free Pentus of potential claims under civil law, it appears from the charges.

Besides Pentus has been charged with appropriation of the money received from the sale of a Ford Tourneo belonging to the company and violation of the obligation to maintain accounts. According to an expert who examined the accounts of OU Autorollo, the books of the company were maintained in an unreliable manner, which significantly complicated obtaining a true picture of the company's financial standing in 2009–2010.

«The prosecutor's office has indicted only those persons in whose case there are grounds to accuse them of a criminal offense on the basis of evidence gathered in the course of the pretrial investigation, and in this specific criminal investigation the accused are Vaino Pentus and Siim Roode. Rain Rosimannus and Keit Pentus-Rosimannus were questioned as part of this investigation as witnesses,» district prosecutor Vallo Kariler said.

The case of the insolvency of Autorollo has been in the public eye for several years following allegations that Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, former minister of environment and now former minister of foreign affairs, and her husband Rain Rosimannus arranged for the transfer of the troubled company of Keit Pentus-Rosimannus's father Vaino Pentus to Roode.

Keit Pentus-Rosimannus has repeatedly denied having had any connection with the management of Autorollo.

At the end of June the Harju county court found her to be connected with the bankruptcy of the father's road haulage company Autorollo and ordered her to pay the bankruptcy claim solidarily with other respondents.

The pretrial investigation of the case was handled by the office for the investigation of economic crimes of the central crime police and the proceedings were overseen by the North district prosecutor's office.