Simson Denies Allegation of Funding Fraud
The Center Party's deputy chair, MP Kadri Simson, has rejected a money laundering accusation made by a former fellow party member.
That member, Tarmo Lausing, said on Monday that the MP had years ago tasked him with laundering 350,000 Estonian kroons (around 22,000 euros) into the party's pockets.
However, Simson denied the claims, saying she had given money to Lausing, who was the head of the party's youth organization at the time, but the funds were not unreported and they were a much more modest amount.
"I have supported the youth organization, supported it in cash. There is nothing criminal about cash; it is a passable resource. And I have tried to get back expense documents in return," Simson told ERR radio.
Tallinn Mayor and party chairman Edgar Savisaar confirmed that his party has not been involved with unreported financing, reported uudised.err.ee.
"It can truly be said with full confidence in our case," Savisaar said, implying that there has been a major amount of scrutiny from authorities with regard to his party.
Savisaar reiterated the assertion that the recently surfaced allegations are a weapon of political opponents in the upcoming municipal elections.
Savisaar drew a connection in the matter to Lausing's close friend, Henri Kaselo, also a former head of the party's youth organization. "Kaselo is currently running in the Social Democrats' ranks and I don't doubt that stirring all kinds of things up is very beneficial for him. I don't take it seriously," Savisaar said.
Lausing, who left the party recently, is 30 but has held several leadership positions, including deputy chairman of the Tallinn City Council.
Lausing claimed that money laundering practices are widespread in Estonian politics. The scheme he described is similar to the donations that whistleblowers in 2012 said were accepted by the Reform Party.
Prosecutors have said Lausing's assertions would not be followed up in a criminal case, as the statute of limitations has expired.