Security service EKRE MP expenses probe raises conflict of interest worries

An Internal Security Service (ISS) investigation into opposition MP Kert Kingo (EKRE) over suspicions of the misuse of expenses benefits has raised conflict of interest questions, given the MP heads a Riigikogu committee which oversees the ISS, daily Postimees reports.

Postimees reported (link in Estonian) that Kingo's position as deputy chair of the Riigikogu Anti-Corruption Select Committee, informally called the "Kapo committee" (Kapo being the acronym by which the ISS is most commonly known in Estonia – ed.), has precipitated fears over a conflict of interest, even if Kingo will not oversee the investigation.

Kingo, a former IT and foreign trade minister, also allegedly threatened Postimees and its journalist with a lawsuit in respect of the paper's reporting.

The investigation itself is at an early stage and Kingo is only the subject of suspicion; she has stated her innocence in the matter, while the investigation, conducted by the ISS under the direction of the prosecutor's office as per standard practice in Estonia, is underway, the prosecutor's office says.

Coalition MP Jürgen Ligi (Reform), who also heads the "Kapo committee" says Kingo should step down from the position of deputy chair, and while she is under no obligation to do so, should make the decision herself or her party, the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) should be queried on the matter, Ligi says.

The original Postimees piece (in Estonian) is here.

As reported by ERR News, last month the Riigikogu Anti-Corruption Select Committee approached the police over the issue of expenses, following a complaint to the committee which alleged that Kingo had used expense benefits to cover a third party's legal costs, a charge which Kingo denies.

Read the article at ERR.