Illegal donations: Center Party to be audited ({{commentsTotal}})

Support for the Center Party remains high in Estonia.
Support for the Center Party remains high in Estonia. Source: (Postimees/Scanpix)

The Supervisory Committee on Party Financing suspects that about €100,000 of the Center Party’s cash reserve represent illegal donations. The committee intends to send an auditor to check the party's finances.

Kaarel Tarand, the committee’s chairman, told the Baltic News Service yesterday that the committee had once again had a look at the exceptionally big cash reserve of the Center Party.

“We've decided to initiate an injunction with regard to the Center Party," Tarand said. He said that at its last meeting the committee decided to give the party one more chance to come up with an explanation.

"They responded with a letter bearing the signature of Priit Toobal that said that they didn't want to give out information," Tarand said. "Since the Center Party lacks the wish to cooperate, we will go on with the proceeding," he added.

In its financial accounts for 2014, the Center Party shows €174,427 in its cash reserve. According to Tarand, about €100,000 are anonymous donations, which is illegal.

"Since it hasn't been proven that this money is of legitimate origin, it has to be money of unknown origin," Tarand said.

A party that has received a donation deemed to be illegal must pay it back to the donor. If the donor cannot be identified, the money must be paid into the state coffers.

"This practice came to be with the judgment in the Toobal case," Tarand said. "When who made the donations couldn't be identified, the Center Party paid the money received as illegal donations into the state budget."

Since the Center Party has not observed the Accounting Act, the committee is of the opinion that the mishandling of accounts is intentional.

"Therefore the committee decided to send an auditing panel to check the accounts of the Center Party," Tarand added.

In September 2015, the Supervisory Committee on Party Financing asked the Center Party for an explanation concerning its exceptionally large cash reserve.

The committee was not satisfied with the party's initial response and said at the beginning of October that it wanted the party to provide more documents. It decided in November to give Center one more chance to explain things.

The Center Party declared the size of its cash reserve to be €174,427 as of December 2014. At the end of 2013, the size of the cash reserve had been €59,340. The committee pointed out that the party received 115,087 euros in cash during 2014. If some cash was also spent during the year, the influx of cash had to be bigger than the amount shown above, the committee said.

Editor: Editor: Dario Cavegn

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