Corruption has always existed, but its nature and perception in society have changed over time. The fight against corruption has become a national priority today. Before 1940, there was no separate law-enforcement or security unit in Estonia to fight corruption on a permanent basis, as was typical
practice at the time. Bribery and embezzlement were punishable as they are today, but the task of law-enforcement and security agencies was not specifically to combat corruption in the modern sense. Dissatisfaction with corruption in public office was undoubtedly also expressed in the 1920s and 1930s, but corruption was not perceived as a threat to national security. At the time, there was a lower perception of corruption and society did not put pressure on public authorities to deal with corruption in the way it does today. This led to a more selective and less uniform reaction to abuses of public office.
The functioning of democracy in a country is directly linked to the level of corruption. Since the beginning of the restoration of independence, Estonia has been successful in promoting democracy, and one of its hallmarks and foundations is a comprehensive and systematic approach to anti-corruption, the functioning of the anti-corruption system and the necessary response to corruption offences. “The Fundamentals of Estonian Security Policy”, approved by the Riigikogu in 2017, states that corruption diminishes political, social and economic stability, undermines trust in the state and democratic values, and can lead to an unfavourable social and economic environment and declining public security. Over the years, KAPO has developed the necessary knowledge and skills to deal more effectively with detecting, preventing and investigating corruption.
In the 2016 Annual Review, we looked back at the milestones in the fight against corruption, highlighting the stages in its development and the solutions to significant instances of criminal corruption. In a land swap, the Minister of the Environment and the Director General of the Land Board took bribes from large companies, creating a biased and corrupt system for corrupting top officials and promoting the property of certain business circles. The land swap case was one of the most important investigations in the fight against corruption and has continued to positively influence the perception of corruption
and governance practices. Preventing, investigating and punishing such high-level corruption is very important, because failing to do so would erode public confidence in the country and a downward spiral of democracy might soon follow. Local government is the authority closest to the citizen, the organiser
of community life, which operates independently. KAPO has always paid attention to the fight against top-level corruption in larger municipalities. A deeply and systematically corrupt influential local government would be extremely damaging to the democracy and security of the Estonian state. Investigations of corruption offences and the perception of corruption are interrelated. Dealing with corruption offences increases the level of perception of corruption and this directs law-enforcement activities in preventing and investigating corruption.
Corruption should be reported if there is reasonable doubt that an official, to your knowledge, has for example violated an Act, misused power, demanded a gift or money in return for a decision or has committed any other offence. Corruption can be reported to the Estonian Internal Security Service 24-hour Confidential Hotline (+372) 612 1455.