Center Party to return €50,000 donation if donor's motives remain unclear

Jüri Ratas appearing on
Jüri Ratas appearing on "Stuudios on peaminister" Vikerraadio. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

Prime Minister and Chairman of the Center Party Jüri Ratas said on Wednesday the party will repay a €50,000 donation if the details around the donor remain obscure.

The donor, little-known entrepreneur Jana-Helen Juhaste, says she made the donation to the Center Party in the first quarter because she believes in the party's worldview.

Speaking on Vikerraadio's program "Stuudios on peaminister" Ratas said parties should check the backgrounds of people who make donations to make sure money is donated for the right reasons.

"I think that if the party receives worldview donations from private individuals, then, in fact, the party itself should have a control mechanism, and we also plan to make a decision in light of this case. If there are unclear answers, there is only one solution - to return the donation to the person," said Ratas.

In April, Mihhail Korb, Secretary General of the Center Party, and Jaan Toots, Head of the Tartu Region, told ERR they did not know anything about Juhaste.

The Supervisory Committee on Party Financing (ERJK) is sending the materials of the donation to be investigated by the prosecutor's office. The ERJK suspects the use of a frontman.

Center Party donor says donation was made from personal assets

Half an hour after the Prime Minister's interview on Vikerraadio, the Center Party sent a statement on behalf of Jana-Helen Juhaste to journalists, in which Juhaste confirms the donation was made from her personal funds. 

Juhaste was quoted by Center Party spokespeople as saying: "I confirm that the donation of €50,00 transferred to the Center Party has been made from my personal funds. I wanted to support the Center Party's worldview and I have also applied to join the Center Party,"

Juhaste said she does not want public attention, but confirmed that she will definitely cooperate with law enforcement agencies.

The Center Party raised altogether €108,705 in donations in the first quarter of this year, of which €50,000 was donated by Juhaste.

According to the Commercial Register, Juhaste was still a member of the Estonian Conservative People's Party (EKRE) at the time. The register indicates that Juhaste joined EKRE on January 30, 2004 and left the party on April 14, 2020.

ERJK asked the Tax and Customs Board for information on Juhaste's income for three years, and the income has been too small for the donation she made, the business daily Aripäev wrote.

According to the Commercial Register, Juhaste is a member of the management boards of companies Tarkoris OÜ and Telekomehitus OÜ. The former is a cleaning enterprise and the latter is involved in installing telecommunications cables. The legal address of both of the companies is in Tartu.

The Centrist Party is one of three parties which initiated the liquidation of the Supervisory Committee on Party Financing last week.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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