Lausing Vows to Reveal More Details of Alleged Political Corruption
Former Center Party member Tarmo Lausing, who accused the party of money laundering in an article published yesterday, has said he will expose more details.
If the Center Party consents, Lausing said, he would reveal the name of the person who allegedly gave him laundered funds. For the moment, he has said only that the individual is a high level member of the party.
"I was one of many who was given money and asked to formalize it - in other words, find people who would make a bank transfer in the form of a donation," Lausing said, adding that fellow members had recommended wealthy individuals in order to leave the impression that they were capable of making such donations.
"I want to say that this is a system that is independent of the person. The person who gave me the money was in the same way a subordinate and had not come up with it [him or herself]," Lausing said. "[He or she] was given the money, handed it forward and I in turn handed it forward."
He said any of the donor names listed on the party's website with amounts over 1,000 euros should be considered "very suspicious."
"They donate a generous sum each quarter," he said. "The donations that are the size of membership dues, 1 euro for instance, are real donations."
Lausing, who is the former head of the Center Party's youth organization and currently lives in Italy, recently left the party's ranks, purportedly in an indignant reaction to a decision to bar a hard-working young member from running for office in Lasnamäe.
"That became the tipping point for me. From there I made decisions emotionally," Lausing said. "At this moment I have calmed down, but I have chosen this path and don't intend to leave things as they are [...] I have a lot more facts and I will definitely reveal them at some point. I can't say whether I will be able to do this before the elections, but at some point I will certainly do it."
After the story broke yesterday, the Prosecutor's Office promptly issued a statement saying it would not investigate the accusations because the statute of limitations on the alleged activity had expired.
Political analysts brushed off as negligible the impact that Lausing's assertions would have on the municipal elections on October 20, saying the media limelight is likely to fade rapidly if no new details emerge.
University of Tartu political scientist Mihkel Solvak told ETV that scandals have historically galvanized support within the Center Party, saying one affair actually helped the party in the 2011 parliamentary election.
Solvak said the Center's voter base, which has a large ethnic Russian population, gets its information from Russian-language media where Lausing's name may not even be mentioned.
"I seriously doubt there will be a significant influence on the Center Party's results," Solvak said.
Another political commentator, Tallinn University's Tõnis Saarts, told ERR radio the affair lacked the element of surprise that the Reform Party's alleged money laundering scandal had last year.
He contrasted it with the Reform Party's 2012 scandal: "The Reform Party had been perceived more likely to be an honest and untainted party. I think in the case of the Center Party, no one presumes that the party is spotless and removed from corruption and suspicious acts."
Meanwhile, the mayor of Tallinn and chairman of the Center Party, Edgar Savisaar, said Lausing's claims were an attempt to undermine the party's power.
He told Postimees that the Center Party has survived scandals in more or less every election.
"We have had the most votes, and in that sense we get on the nerves of our opponents, and I guess they try to take advantage of every person possible," Savisaar said.