2015-Jan: E-mail conversation with the Estonian Financial "Intelligence" Unit, mostly with its boss Aivar Paul. Layout edited for clarity.
As one can see they are making great efforts to avoid answering.
From: Otto de Voogd To: Rahapesu (email@example.com) Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 13:11 +0200 Subject: Teabenõue
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. 1. When did the Financial Intelligence Unit decide to classify Bitcoin as an alternative payment method? Please provide the exact date on which this decision was made. 2. What process was followed in making this decision? 3. Who was involved in making this decision? 4. Were other government institutions were involved in the decision? 5. Were agencies from other countries involved in the decision? 6. Was advice sought from outside of the Financial Intelligence Unit? If so, who? 7. Please provide the relevant minutes of all relevant meetings where the legal status of Bitcoin was discussed. 8. When and how did the police first make public its classification of Bitcoin as an alternative payment method? Regards, Otto de Voogd
To: Otto de Voogd Subject: RE: Teabenõue Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2015 14:20:17 +0200
Tere! Edastan vastuse. Lugupidamisega Kulla Ojala Rahapesu andmebüroo juhtivspetsialist Hr Otto de Voogd [snip] Teie 13.01.2015 Meie 20.01.2015 nr 3.4-3/2-2 Vastus teabenõudele Vastuseks teie 26.03.2014 teabenõudele teatame, et vastavalt AvTS § 6 on teabenõue teabenõudja poolt käesolevas seaduses sätestatud korras teabevaldajale esitatud taotlus teabe saamiseks. AVtS § 3 lg 1 sätestab, et Avalik teave (edaspidi teave) on mis tahes viisil ja mis tahes teabekandjale jäädvustatud ja dokumenteeritud teave, mis on saadud või loodud seaduses või selle alusel antud õigusaktides sätestatud avalikke ülesandeid täites. Seepärast käsitleme teie küsimusi teabenõudes päringuna. Kuna samal teemal on pooleli kohtuvaidlus, ei pea me õigeks enne kohtuvaidluse lõppu nimetatud teemasid käsitleda. RahaPTS on sätestatud alternatiivse makseteenuse osutaja mõiste alates 2008 aastast. RahaPTS sätete osas saate selgitusi küsida Rahandusministeeriumilt. Täiendavaks selgituseks - politsei ei anna ega ole ka kohustatud andma erinevate alternatiivsete maksevahendite legaaldefinitsioone vaid teostama seaduse täitmise üle järelevalvet. Küll oleme turuosalistele vastu tulles käsitlenud seaduse täitmise nõudeid 2013 aastaraamatus ning kodulehel https://www.politsei.ee/et/uudised/uudis.dot?id=314939 . Lugupidamisega /allkirjastatud digitaalselt/ Marget Lundava Politseikapten Analüüsitalituse juht Rahapesu andmebüroo juhi ülesannetes Arnold Tenusaar [snip]; [snip]@politsei.ee
From: Otto de Voogd To: Rahapesu Sent: Thursday, January 22, 2015 15:04 Subject: Teabenõue
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. I took note of Marget Lundava's refusal to provide information on my previous request. Please note that I consider the police withholding information that could be relevant during my trial as a blatant violation of my rights to a fair trial under European human right treaties. However the vague reply I received makes certain suggestions, which I would like to have clarified by you: 1. Did the Financial Intelligence Unit make the decision to classify Bitcoin as an alternative payment method? 2. If not, was the Financial Intelligence Unit involved in any way in the decision to classify Bitcoin as an alternative payment method? 3. If not, who ordered the Financial Intelligence Unit to treat Bitcoin as an alternative payment method? Please confirm receipt of this e-mail. Regards, Otto de Voogd
From: Rahapesu To: Otto de Voogd Subject: RE: Teabenõue Date: Wed, 28 Jan 2015 10:12:13 +0200
Tere! Edastan vastuse täiendavale päringule. Kulla Ojala Rahapesu andmebüroo juhtivspetsialist Hr Otto de Voogd Teie 22.01.2015 Meie 28.01.2015 nr 3.4-3/2-4 Vastus teabenõudele Vastuseks teie 22.01.2015 teabenõudele teatame veelkord, et vastavalt AvTS § 6 on teabenõue teabenõudja poolt käesolevas seaduses sätestatud korras teabevaldajale esitatud taotlus teabe saamiseks. AVtS § 3 lg 1 sätestab, et „Avalik teave (edaspidi teave) on mis tahes viisil ja mis tahes teabekandjale jäädvustatud ja dokumenteeritud teave, mis on saadud või loodud seaduses või selle alusel antud õigusaktides sätestatud avalikke ülesandeid täites“. Seepärast käsitleme teie küsimusi teabenõudes päringuna. Kuna te oma küsimustes järjekindlalt kasutate väljendit „alternatiivne makseviis“, juhime teie tähelepanu asjaolule, et RahaPTS § 6 lg 4 ei käsitle alternatiivseid makseviise e. meetodeid vaid maksevahendeid. RahaPTS on sätestatud alternatiivsete maksevahendite teenuse osutaja mõiste alates 2008 aastast. RahaPTS sätete osas saate selgitusi küsida Rahandusministeeriumilt. Lugupidamisega /allkirjastatud digitaalselt/ Aivar Paul Rahapesu andmebüroo juht Arnold Tenusaar 612 [snip]; [snip]@politsei.ee
From: Otto de Voogd To: Rahapesu Sent: Sun, 15 Feb 2015 02:55 +0200 Subject: Teabenõue
Dear Mr Aivar Paul, Teabenõue: In your reply to my request for information you stated the following: "Seepärast käsitleme teie küsimusi teabenõudes päringuna." Unfortunately I was unable to find any mention of a "teabenõudes päringuna" in the text of the relevant Estonian law. Could you please refer me to the exact legal definition of this term? Regards, Otto de Voogd
From: Rahapesu To: Otto de Voogd Subject: RE: Teabenõue Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2015 08:38:34 +0200
Mr. De Voogd. The idea behind of that sentence was that we treat your letter as simbel request for information form FIU. We do not provide legal explanations as legislation related explanations can be provided only by authority which prepared legislation. Regards Aivar Paul Head of Estonian FIU
From: Otto de Voogd To: Rahapesu Sent: Wed, 18 Feb 2015 12:53 +0200 Subject: Re: Teabenõue
Dear Mr. Paul, What is a "Simple request for information"? How is that different from a teabenõu? Since I did not find any reference to "teabenõudes päringuna" in any legal text, I am still at a loss of understanding what this means in legal terms. Please kindly explain what a "simple request for information" or "teabenõudes päringuna" is exactly and point me to the relevant legal text where this term is defined. Regards, Otto de Voogd Bitcoin Refugee
From: Rahapesu To: Otto de Voogd Subject: RE: Teabenõue Date: Wed, 18 Feb 2015 14:40:02 +0200
Mr. De Voogd. Public Information Act § 3 states that Public information is information which is recorded and documented in any manner and on any medium and which is obtained or created upon performance of public duties provided by law or legislation issued on the basis thereof. Public Information Act § 23-2 5 states that in order to comply with the request for information, information would have to be additionally systematised and analysed and new information would have to be documented on the basis thereof. Such request for information is deemed to be a request for explanation and shall be responded to pursuant to the procedure prescribed in the Response to Memoranda and Requests for Explanations Act So it means that we can't just send any existing document to answer your request. Therefor we treat your request of explanation. As we are disputing related issues in the court and as content of your request basically indicates that you need from us legal explanation in relations to define legal status of de-centralized cryptocurrencies. According to Response to Memoranda and Requests for Explanations and Submission of Collective Addresses Act § 3 only authority which prepared legislation can give legal explanation. It means that basically we could refuse to answer to your "teabenõue", but we treat your request as letter and answer it in frames of our competence. So our answers are not legal explanations, but statements made by our FIU. And we once more answer that by our opinion all cryptocurrencies are covered with Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing Prevention Act since 28.01.2008 no matter in which date they were introduced for public. Regards Aivar Paul Head of Estonian FIU
From: Otto de Voogd To: Rahapesu Sent: Thursday, February 19, 2015 04:06 Subject: Re: Teabenõue
Dear Mr. Paul, Are you claiming that you answered the questions in my request for information (teabenõu) from January 13th? Because I did not see any answer from you at all, basically you refused to answer any of my questions. None of the questions I asked in that teabenõu, pertained to asking for an explanation or interpretation of the law. They also were not a request for legal aid regarding the dispute with me that you initiated, I already have one of the best lawyers in Estonia to defend myself against you thank you very much. My questions were all about the process the FIU followed to determine which law applied (which I will note again is not the same thing as asking for an explanation of the law). The Estonian state claims to be a transparent (a claim often repeated by president Ilves in international forums). That's actually the intent of the Public Information Act. "§ 1. Purpose of Act The purpose of this Act is to ensure that the public and every person has the opportunity to access information intended for public use, based on the principles of a democratic and social rule of law and an open society, and to create opportunities for the public to monitor the performance of public duties." Please note the last part "to monitor the performance of public duties", which is what I want to do and is a right granted to me by Estonian law. "§ 15. Obligation of holders of information to assist persons making requests for information (1) Holders of information are required to clearly explain the procedure for and the conditions and methods of access to information to persons making requests for information." You are required to clearly explain how I can access the information I requested. "(3) An official or employee of a holder of information who is not competent to comply with a request for information is required promptly to send the person making the request for information to an official or employee who has the corresponding competence, or promptly to communicate the request for information in writing to the specified official or employee." This means that if you are not competent to answer my questions you are required to promptly send it to someone who is. This specifically does not allow you to tell me to ask someone else at another government agency (which I note that you've now already done several times). "§ 21. Forwarding of requests for information according to competence (1) If a holder of information does not possess the requested information, the holder of information shall ascertain the competent holder of information and forward the request for information promptly thereto, but not later than within five working days, and shall notify the person making the request for information thereof at the same time." Which reinforces the point above. Furthermore please pay attention to: "§ 9. Obligations of holders of information 8) not to submit knowingly misleading, inaccurate or incorrect information and, in the case of doubt, is required to verify the correctness and accuracy of the information released." Please also note that you have a document registry. "§ 11. Document register of agency (1) The document register of an agency is a digital database which is maintained by a state or local government agency or a legal person in public law in order to register documents received by the agency and prepared in the agency and to ensure access thereto." On your website it even says that the only way to get certain documents is to file a teabenõu: "Kuna tehnilistel põhjustel ei ole võimalik avalikustada 01.01.2012-10.01.2014 registreeritud dokumente, palume dokumentidega tutvumiseks esitada teabenõue." Ref: https://www.politsei.ee/et/organisatsioon/dokumendiregister/ In short I see no legal reason for you to refuse to answer my questions or provide me with the documents I asked for. So I'll reformulate the questions I asked in my January 13th request in manner that will hopefully make things clearer for you. If something is not still not clear I am more than happy to help you understand what I want to know. 1. Has the FIU had meetings during which the matter of Bitcoin was discussed? 2. Please provide me with a full list of dates of all those meetings. 3. Please provide me with a list of documents (publication dates and titles) in your document registry that relate to or otherwise mention Bitcoin. 4. Please send me copies of the documents that concern meetings held by the FIU that dealt with Bitcoin, such as minutes of meetings or summaries of meetings. Best Regards, Otto de Voogd
From: Rahapesu To: Otto de Voogd Subject: RE: Teabenõue Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:48:06 +0200
Mr. De Voogd. "Teabenõe" is "teabenõue" if answering to it means that there is some document or any ohter type of infurmation available to handi t over. Your questions are much wider and therefor we treat them as siple requests to FIU. Estonian FIU has attended many meeting where bitcoins were one of topics. Also such meetings and discussions have been held internally. As we havent produced minutes of meetings then we do not have those minutes for handing them over to you. Regards Aivar Paul Head of Estonian FIU
From: Otto de Voogd To: Rahapesu Sent: Tue, 24 Feb 2015 02:09 Subject: Re: Teabenõue
Dear Mr. Paul, I had four questions, from reading your reply I interpret it as follows, please correct me if I am wrong: Q 1 was: Has the FIU had meetings during which the matter of Bitcoin was discussed? Your answer is: yes. Correct? Q 2 was: Please provide me with a full list of dates of all those meetings. Your answer is that you can't answer because there have been many meetings and no minutes of those meetings have been kept. Correct? Q 4 was: Please send me copies of the documents that concern meetings held by the FIU that dealt with Bitcoin, such as minutes of meetings or summaries of meetings. Your answer is that you have do not have minutes of ANY of the meetings where Bitcoins were discussed and the FIU involved. Correct? Now regarding your "teabenõue" clarification, if I may call it that: I'd love to ask you for specific documents, but I must first know which ones exist. That's why I asked you specifically for a list of documents from your document registry: Q 3 was: Please provide me with a list of documents (publication dates and titles) in your document registry that relate to or otherwise mention Bitcoin. So again please provide me a list of documents. Best Regards, Otto de Voogd
From: Rahapesu To: Otto de Voogd Subject: RE: Teabenõue Date: Mon, 27 Feb 2015 15:36:30 +0200
Dear mr. de Voogd You have understood correctly. We do not have any registered documents which we could share with You regarding bitcoins. Regards Aivar Paul Head of Estonian FIU
From: Otto de Voogd To: Rahapesu Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2015 08:36:03 +0100 Subject: RE: Teabenõue
Dear Mr. Paul, Does the FIU have any documents that relate to or mention Bitcoin that the FIU can NOT share with me? Or are there simply no documents at all within the FIU that relate to or mention Bitcoin? Regards, Otto de Voogd
Followed by... silence...
We must believe that the FIU has magically classified Bitcoin without any written note of that fact, nor has it received a document with instructions from the Ministry of Finance on how Bitcoin is classified.
It's also hard to believe that a state agency can hold regular meetings without producing any written minutes or summaries.