Center refused possibility to return forbidden donation in instalments ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Center Party.
Center Party. Source: Sergei Stepanov/ERR

The Supervisory Committee on Party Financing (ERJK) has refused to offer the Center Party a possibility to pay back a forbidden donation in the amount of €110,100 in instalments.

The leader of Center, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, said that the party accepts the decision of the party finance oversight committee. 

According to ERJK deputy chairman Kaarel Tarand, the committee had no legal grounds to make an exception to the Center Party. Tarand explained that the injunction to return the donation has passed through three court tiers and the decision exactly says by what time the money has to be returned.  

Tarand told BNS: "It stands in the decision that the money must be returned within 30 days of the precept's entry into force, which has passed by now. We assume that the Center Party will fulfill the precept in time for the next meeting of the ERJK, which will take place in the second half of August."

He added that the Center Party has known for two years that it may become acutely necessary for them to fulfill the precept and has shown in its annual reports that it possesses the necessary amount. 

The chairman of Center, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, said at the government's press briefing on Thursday that they have to accept the situation. 

Ratas said, making it clear that the party will fulfill the precept: "Going to court makes no sense, the party has to make an effort,"

On July 29, Center Party secretary general Mihhail Korb made a proposal to the Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee (ERJK), in which the party asked for permission to pay back €110,100 in forbidden donations in 12 instalments because paying the sum in total is not financially viable.

The party, through Korb, asked the committee to develop a 12-month equal-part instalment schedule, which would begin on July 6, 2020, with due dates on the 6th of every month thereafter.

ERR News wrote on June 17 that the Supreme Court found that the Center Party's inadequate accounting in 2014 and 2015 did not allow for the confirmation of the source of cash deposited in the party's account. The Supreme Court explained in its decision that parties' role in forming the parliament and in governing the state requires the full transparency of a party's finances.

Based on the Political Parties Act, in 2017, the ERJK issued a precept ordering the Center Party to pay a forbidden donation of €110,100 into the state budget.

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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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