Paper: son of Siim Kallas involved in Autorollo affair

24.01.2013, 11:51

Ülo Kallas, son of European transport commissioner Siim Kallas, helped Rain Rosimannus, one of Reform Party’s most influential members, to secure a loan for Väino Pentus, father of current Minister of Environmental Affairs Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, writes Äripäev.

Pentus who owned trucking company Naitsirk needed money to buy Autorollo, a trucking company that belonged to Tiit Pohl. He bought the company and merged them into Autorollo which soon afterwards went bankrupt under suspicious circumstances.

The loan of almost 600,000 euros was granted by Swedbank to Naitsirk Ltd in 2008 when Ülo Kallas worked as head of project financing department in Swedbank in Estonia. This loan was never repaid.

Although Kallas who now works as head of capital markets of Finance Estonia at first denies having mediated the loan or contacts, he then admits that he helped to make sure that Rosimannus met with the “right people” at the bank.

“I did it because I knew Rosimannus,” said Ülo Kallas to Äripäev, adding that the loan in question was too small for his department.

The seller, Tiit Pohl, has claimed that the loan which was granted in 2008 was managed by Väino Pentus and Rain Rosimannus. According to Pohl, at first they asked a loan from Nordea, but it refused.

When Äripäev asked Rain Rosimannus for confirmation, he said that he cannot comment it because of the ongoing court dispute.

Although Rosimannus claims that he was simply advising the company’s restructuring, was doing a favour to the father-in-law and played no active role in the company, he admitted that he helped to apply the loan.

The loan in question was guaranteed by Kredex, a state export credit agency. The Finance Ministry has now said that in its opinion Kredex did nothing wrong in backing the loan that was used to procure transport vehicles and equipment and that Kredex had not violated EU state aid rules.

This is questionable because while EU rules prohibits to use state aid for acquisition of road transport means  and vehicles and therefore Kredex was banned to secure loans that are used to buy road transport means and vehicles, this is exactly what happened.

Namely, the objective of the loan was for to acquire a company whose main assets were transport means. Although legally OK, Kredex essentially violated EU rules.
The agency’s internal auditor is currently conducting an audit of the activities of Kredex with regard to guaranteeing the loan. The findings of the audit are expected to be reported at the end of January.

After Autorollo stopped repaying the loan, Swedbank filed a bankruptcy application against it and the company was declared bankrupt in 2011. Swedbank received most of the loan in the amount of 330,000 euros back from Kredex which made Kredex Autorollo’s biggest creditor. According to Eesti Ekspress, Kredex considered the loan irrecoverable and sold it for 3,500 euros.

Rosimannus’ friend, lawyer Siim Roode who became owner of Autorollo in spring 2010 after the company developed financial problems, has said that Swedbank should not have granted the loan to Autorollo because it was obvious that the company was not able to service the loan.

Roode said that an audit also showed that the holding that Väino Pentus bought from Tiit Pohl was worth only half of what was agreed, or about 400,000 euros.
The creditors of Autorollo have now sued Keit Pentus-Rosimannus, Rain Rosimannus and Siim Roode, claiming more than half a million euros from them.