Finland's National Emergency Supply Agency (Nesa) has the right to terminate an agreement to purchase protective masks from former reality-TV personality Tiina Jylhä’s firm and recover an advance payment, an Estonian court has ruled.
The Harju court’s decision relates to a disastrous deal to purchase protective masks from the beautician for more than five million euros. Nesa had paid out half of the total sum in advance, about 2.6 million euros, but Jylhä’s firm failed to deliver the agreed number of masks in the contracted delivery time.
"The court of first instance has ruled that the complaint is acceptable [...] The defendant must repay the plaintiff the advance payment of 2,665,000 euros paid to the defendant," the court in Harju said in its ruling.
According to the Harju district court, there are sufficient grounds to void the deal because Jylhä’s company was not able to deliver the agreed number of masks.
"The plaintiff has presented credible arguments relating to the timing of the fulfillment of the contract [...] The plaintiff has argued that the rapid delivery of the masks and the agreed deadline were central to entering into the contract [...] Failing to comply with the agreed delivery time was a significant breach of the contract by the defendant," it added.
The advance payment had been frozen by banks in Estonia. The court noted that the transfer of large sums of money to the account of a relatively small firm raised suspicions of money laundering. Additionally, it said that Jylhä had lied to tax authorities.
The court’s decision was dated 13 July but the ruling can be appealed in a higher court.
Police investigating other deals
The deal with Jylhä’s The Look Medical Care is one of at least two procurement contracts brokered by the stockpile agency that is under investigation by police.
Another agreement to purchase protective masks from payday lender Onni Sarmaste eventually led to the resignation of agency CEO Tomi Lounemaa, after tests determined that masks purchased from the heavily-indebted businessman were not fit for purpose.
The National Bureau of Investigation has also begun an investigation into alleged official misconduct at the stockpile agency. Police have not so far said which roles or persons are suspected of wrongdoing.
Investigators are also looking into suspected financial crimes related to the botched procurements. They are investigating those cases as suspected fraud and suspected aggravated money laundering.
Police have not disclosed the suspects related to the offences, but Sarmaste has said that he was detained by police.