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2015-Feb: E-mail conversation with FIU. Layout edited for clarity.

From: Otto de Voogd
To: Rahapesu
Sent: Sat, 21 Feb 2015 04:14
Subject: Teabenõu
Tere,

Under Estonia's public information act, known in Estonian as a teabenõue, I hereby request the information listed below from the Estonian Financial Intelligence Unit.

Does a person who is a resident of the Netherlands, or a company registered and operating in the Netherlands, that uses a bank account in Estonia to process payments related to a service that allows customers to buy or sell Bitcoins, have any obligations under Estonian law?

Please specify which conditions apply specifically to such a person or company, if any.

Do any obligations change if that person is also an Estonian e-resident?

I kindly ask you for an answer in English.

Regards,
Otto de Voogd
From: Rahapesu
To: Otto de Voogd
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:49:28 +0200
Subject: Re: Teabenõu
Dear mr. de Voogd

If person is not offering service in Estonia then there is no need for licensing and there is no obligation to follow MLTFPA.

But if it offers service in Estonia, then there is need to apply for license and obligations from MLTFPA should be observed.

Regards
Aivar Paul
Head of Estonian FIU
From: Otto de Voogd
To: Rahapesu
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2015 00:40:41 +0100
Subject: Teabenõu
Dear Mr. Paul,

Thank you for your answer.

Unfortunately the meaning of your answer depends on the definition of
"offering a service in Estonia".

To clarify could you indicate which of the following situations
constitute "offering a service in Estonia" by a foreign company?

1) Estonian bank account used to serve a customer located in Estonia.

2) Estonian bank account used to serve a customer located outside of
Estonia.

3) Foreign bank account used to serve a customer in Estonia.


Regards,
Otto de Voogd
From: Otto de Voogd
To: Rahapesu
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 2015 12:08:59 +0100
Subject: Teabenõu
Dear Mr. Paul,

I have still not received an answer to my request from Feb 24 2015, (two
weeks ago) which I repeat here for your convenience:

Which of the following situations constitute "offering a service in
Estonia" by a foreign company?

1) Estonian bank account used to serve a customer located in Estonia.

2) Estonian bank account used to serve a customer located outside of
Estonia.

3) Foreign bank account used to serve a customer in Estonia.

Regards,
Otto de Voogd
From: Otto de Voogd
To: Rahapesu
Date: Tue, 17 Mar 2015 01:43:31 +0100
Subject: Teabenõu
Tere,

I still have not received and answer to my teabenõu from Feb 24th 2015,
of which I sent a reminder on March 10. The 5 working day period to
answer a teabenõu has long expired.

If you refuse to clarify which situations constitute offering a service
in Estonia, please at least have the courtesy to let me know.

Regards,
Otto de Voogd

As no answer was forthcomming, I resent the requests via the eesti.ee web interface.

Date: 2015-03-23 16:04
Subject: Teabenõue
Pealkiri: Estonian AML law application to foreign companies/persons
Teabenõue:
Hello,

I need to know in which situations Estonian AML law applies to a foreign company or person. In particular I'd like to know in the three situations below if a foreign company or person needs to abide by Estonian AML law or not:

1) Estonian bank account used to serve a customer located in Estonia.

2) Estonian bank account used to serve a customer located outside of
Estonia.

3) Foreign bank account used to serve a customer in Estonia.

Please note that I have already asked this question multiple times, directly to the FIU. The first time being on Feb 24th I asked the Financial Intelligence Unit, addressed to Aivar Paul. Until now I have failed to receive an answer to my request for information. And I note that the 5 working day deadline stipulated in the relevant law has long passed.

Regards,
Otto de Voogd

Vastamisviis: e-post
E-post: [snip]
Kontakttelefon: [snip]
Date: 2015-04-02 14:20
Pealkiri: Are you going to answer my request for information?
Teabenõue:
I filed a request for information several times over the last months, I still have not received an answer.

Are you going to answer my request for information?

Regards,
Otto de Voogd

Thus after 4 reminders I finally get a reply with no real answers.

From: Rahapesu
To: Otto de Voogd
Date: Thu, 9 Apr 2015 15:17:19 +0200
Subject: Vastused teabenõuetele (10.03, 17.03, 23.03 ja 02.04.2015)
Dear Mr. De Voogd. 

I have to inform you that FIU doesn't offer legal services and it is up to each person to be sure that all necessary obligations from legislation is fulfilled. 

From the FIU point of view definition of "offering services in Estonia" is not strictly set. And as there is no definition then it will be solved always case by case. We understand that there are no exact and clear demarcation lines between different situations. So it will be extremely difficult to pinpoint situations when there is "offering of services in Estonia" taken place when there is no clear understanding of background and content of exact service. From your examples I would rather be sure that example number 1 will fall under this definition. In other cases it needs further analysis of situation.

Result depends on many details.


Regards
Aivar Paul
Head of Estonian FIU

In other words the FIU can do whatever it likes and doesn't provide any clear guidelines. There is no definition of what constitures "doing business in Estonia" and what does not.

This is the level of certainty the Estonian law and law enforcement provides, i.e. not much.