Entrepreneur Hillar Teder's €60,000 donation to the ruling Center Party in the third quarter is associated with a government decision to grant a loan to Hillar Teder's son Rauno Teder's Porto Franco real estate development. Teder said he has been donating to various political parties for the past eight years and decided to sponsor Center following the government's bold decisions.
Teder told ERR that donating to parties constitutes best practice for him and that the government has done well in what are difficult times. "The principle here is clear and because I operate on foreign markets, I try to support political parties that promote the Estonian agenda abroad," he said. Teder donated €50,000 to the Center Party in 2019 and has also sponsored other parties in the past.
The businessman said that the prime minister, foreign minister, economy minister and finance minister have done good work that has benefited Estonian companies abroad. "Looking at the foreign minister, [Urmas] Reinsalu has really done a good job. We have plotted a course for embassies to support Estonian companies abroad."
"I find it very positive that embassies now have people tasked with promoting business and export," Teder said, adding that it is positive the matter is being handled by the foreign ministry and not the economy ministry.
"Conservative People's Party (EKRE) ministers have done well in terms of economic development."
Teder refutes link between Porto Franco loan decision and donations
The government decided in September to grant a loan of €39.4 million to Rauno Teder's Porto Franco real estate development. A few days later, Hillar Teder donated €30,000 to the prime minister's party.
The entrepreneur maintains that the two are not linked, emphasizing that a loan is an obligation and needs to be returned.
"I would simply say that a loan is an obligation. When someone is granted a loan, they take on an obligation. While it is good that entrepreneurs are supported in assuming such obligations, they will have to pay it all back, meaning that the state will benefit in the end," Teder said.
"As concerns press coverage of the topic, how many companies have been granted loans? To try and claim that a donation is the only way to secure a loan is absurd," the businessman said.
Center Party secretary general Mihhail Korb said on Tuesday that because donations to parties are under close scrutiny, he contacted Teder after Center received the donation and was told that the major donation was inspired by Rally Estonia.
Teder confirmed that the government's decision to organize the rally despite the coronavirus crisis was one of the factors in his decision to support the party. "Rally is my youth and childhood and it is surprising they took the risk in this difficult time," he said.
Teder also praised the government for not giving in to fears that the rally producing an outbreak could negatively impact their local elections vote yield next year. "It was a bold decision. The people – those who like rallying – were delivered a very positive emotional charge," he added.
"Many such things happen because of EKRE. They are doing well and have not yet developed that acute political caution."
The businessman said he plans to sponsor parties in the future. "Who else if not entrepreneurs should support politicians. While a part of their income comes from the taxpayer or the state, as an entrepreneur, I realize that running an organization with 10,000 members on what the state pays parties is difficult," he said.
Editor: Marcus Turovski