Kohtla-Järve mayor, businessmen detained under bribery suspicion

26.11.2009, 09:41

The security police detained yesterday Jevgeni Solovjov, mayor of Northeast Estonian town of Kohtla-Järve and two local businessmen, Nikolai Ossipenko and Rinat Hamidullin,  under suspicion of bribery.

Ossipenko's company N&V  has for years won large road maintenance contracts and together with Hamidullin who owns a construction company built a house for the mayor for free.

The security police searched through 20 offices, companies and homes and confiscated about 20 computers.

"We are investigating four public tenders. The most recent one was a 229 million kroons four-year contract for road and green maintenance in Kohtla-Järve that was won by Ossipenko's N&V," said the prosecutor, adding that the winner of the tender is suspected to have been agreed already before the tender was announced.

Ossipenko has refused to comment.

Former high-ranking police officer Koit Pikaro who has now retired said that Ossipenko knows the police from inside out and has money. "He has been corrupt for all his life and could get off easily also this time. Perhaps charges will be brought, but considering the court practice in Northeast Estonia, I would not see him get convicted," said Pikaro, adding that even members of the local mafia have admitted that Ossipenko is too strong for them.

Äripäev estimated that Ossipenko was worth 184 million kroons last year which placed him Estonia's 153rd richest businessman

Nikolai Ossipenko, who makes huge money offering public services to local governments in Ida-Virumaa county has earned the nickname of "local king".

In 2007 Kohtla-Järve ordered various municipal services from Ossipenko’s companies for a total of EEK 81 million. In addition, last year he provided EEK 43.5 mln worth of services to the municipality of Narva that represents 70 pct of the municipal budget costs of the town.

In 2007 turnover of N & V was 116 million kroons in 2007 and net profit was 9.5 million kroons. A year earlier the company managed to operate with 50% profitability and earned net profit of 47 million kroons at turnover of 93 million kroons.