Government approves Porto Franco inquiry committee

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Outgiong Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) and outgoing Minister of Culture Tõnis Lukas (Isamaa). Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The government has given the go-ahead to an inquiry into activities involving the real estate development which prompted its own downfall, following the resignation of Jüri Ratas (Center) as prime minister last week.

The outgoing cabinet made the decision at one of its last regular Thursday meetings, which will see state secretary Taimar Peterkop head up the committee looking into a €39-million loan issued by state credit agency KredEx, to the Porto Franco development in Tallinn.

Leading civil servants from the economic affairs and justice ministries will also be on the committee, which can also consult experts, including those from outside Estonia.

Since talks are underway between the Center Party and Reform to set up a new, bi-partite coalition, the new coalition will need to decide within three months whether to retain the committee, otherwise it would be disbanded, according to regulations, BNS reports.

A security services investigation which named five suspects in the major corruption case, including Center's own Mihhail Korb, who resigned as Secretary General as a result, was made public on Tuesday, January 12, and led to Ratas' resignation, and consequently the collapse of the coalition of Center, EKRE and Isamaa, hours later, in the early morning of January 13.

While Center was at the heart of the scandal it remains in office if a new coalition deal is struck. Together with Reform, the two parties have 59 seats at the 101-seat Riigikogu, enough for a comfortable majority, meaning the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and Isamaa find themselves in opposition along with the Social Democratic Party (SDE).

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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