According to Saulvedis Varpins, lawyer of Oleg Osinovskis, does not deny that the money was given to bribery accused Ugis Magonis personally by Osinovskis, as reported by De Facto programme of LTV. However, Varpins added that it was a deal between two private persons.
At the same time, Osinovskis told the programme that the money was a gift to Magonis for his 50th birthday, which Magonis celebrated in Rundales Castle.
Last year, Estonian Äripäev newspaper recognized Osinovskis as the country’s wealthiest person. His fortune exceeds EUR 286 million. Osinovskis owns Skinest Rail, which operates in sales of rolling stock and spare parts. The possible bribe came from Osinovskis.
According to findings of Estonian media, Osinovskis company had bought two trains from EVR Cargo for EUR 2 million last year. These trains were later sold to LDZ Ritošā sastāva serviss for four times their price. The involved sides deny that those were one and the same trains. «It’s no more than speculation. It looks that way at first glance, but in reality it’s not,» – says Council Chairman of Eesti Raudtee Raivo Vare. Nevertheless, it has been confirmed that Osinovskis’ owned Skinest was the only contender in the multi-million procurement. The second company – Lithuania-registered Russian TMHB had only viewed documents of the procurement, but did not submit its offer. «Had there been two or three contenders, people watching from the side would have had a more reason to believe,» – said board member of LDZ Ritošā sastāva serviss Ivars Rullis. What Rullis says completely contradicts what Osinovskis had told Delfi.ee: «The tender was sufficiently complicated. There was a serious fight among competitors. We have no reason to believe the price, as reported by Diena, was overpaid.»
Osinovskis is not just the wealthiest person in Estonia, he also has close ties with the political elite of the neighbouring country. His son Yevgeni Osinovskis is a former Education Minister of Estonia and currently a parliamentary deputy and leader of Social Democrats Party of the ruling coalition. Oleg Osinovskis is also the largest financial supporter of this party.
Osinovskis prior crime record stains his image. A decade ago he tried to reach an illegal deal with Estonian Railway in regard to market division. Osinovskis was then arrested to three days because of the breach of Law on Competition. He was then sentenced to a fine. Even now Osinovskis’ influence over the railway business is undoubtable. «We currently have two leading operators that work in the field of cargo transfer. He is one of them,» – explains Vare.
In spring it became known that Osinovskis’ company had supplied non-existent sleepers to Estonian Railway. Part of the promised thousand sleepers was not made from the promised oak, but rather from lower quality wood. With that, the state company had not only overpaid, but also received sleepers whose service period is 20 years shorter than promised.
While Magonis spends his days in prison, the programme managed to catch Osinovskis during his lunch with his lawyer Saulvedis Varpins in Tallinn. Initially both refused to provide commentaries. Nevertheless, the programme managed to find out that Osinovskis had met with representatives of KNAB. He has no official status in the case. «I am very worried about what has happened. It’s true. I am worried about Ugis and what’s happened. I believe the investigation will shed light on this matter. I don’t know all the details, but facts I do know make me believe everything will be alright. In truth, there are more emotions than there is truth,» – said Osinovskis.
One day after the meeting with Osinovskis, headlines of news portals read Varpins’ commentary on what happened. From what he said, it can be concluded that defence wants to make sure Magonis is not considered a state official at the moment of his arrest. With that, Magonis and Osinovskis would come out unharmed. «It was a deal between two private persons. You see, KNAB believes there is a bribe involved. The court will decide who speaks the truth,» – said Varpins. When asked why this deal included cash and not a money transfer, Varpins said: «Cash? Cash…there are deals in which the recipient side wishes to see cash, not a transfer. KNAB will determine the truth in this matter as well. They will tell whether or not anyone breached anything. I does seem, however, that at least Mr Osinovskis has not breached anything.»
Osinovskis had met with Magonis in the past as well. He was one of the guests invited to Magonis’ 50th birthday. Other guests included high-rank officials in Latvian government and head of Russian Railway Vladimir Yakunin. Osinovskis refused to reveal what he got Magonis as a gift for his birthday: «If you think it was some unreasonably expensive gift, you’re wrong. The gift was modest. We are all modest people.»
The programme also reports that Osinovskis has received impressive payments from LDz. Osinovskis is the one who has been providing LDz with powerful trains all these years. The last four trains are the ones to attract attention from KNAB.
The programme has asked LDz to reveal all previous procurements in which Osinovskis’ companies won. LDz refused to do this, saying that LDz has a special status that allows the company to keep such information secret.
Even estimates based on information published in regard to multiple procurements show that LDz has paid Osinovskis’ companies at least EUR 20 million over the years.
Aside from the four 2TE116-type trains bought this year, LDz bought seven more in the past several years – one in 2013, which cost EUR 2.4 million and six in 2011, which were bought with a 70% discount, according to LDz representative.
The 2TE116 locomotives built in Soviet years can pull long chains of rolling stock. They are also cheaper than modern models. However, they do not comply with EU standards. With that, it is prohibited to carry 2TE116 locomotives to EU. Regardless, the best offer to LDz came from Osinovskis.
It is unknown how many deals there have been between Osinovskis and LDz over the years, but according to information in the Procurements Monitoring Bureau, aside from locomotives, Osinovskis has supplied sleepers, ferry spare parts, repair cranes, beams and carriages. Over the years LDz Cargo has procured two thousand carriages. Osinovskis’ Skinest Group is one of the largest carriage sellers in the region.