Deputy mayor suspected of taking prohibited donation

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Vadim Belobrovtsev (Center). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

A deputy mayor of Tallinn is suspected of taking prohibited donation to finance his election campaign, daily newspaper Postimees writes.

The Supervisory Committee on Party Financing (ERJK) has on three occasions requested documents from Center Party member Vadim Belobrovtsev to see how he financed his 2019 European Parliament election campaign.

"The reason for initiating the procedure was the unusually long-term debt to Complex Consult OÜ reflected in your election campaign report," ERJK chair Liisa Oviir wrote to Belobrovtsev.

In May 2019, Complex Consult OU submitted an invoice of €11,687 to Belobrovtsev for advertising services. As of September last year, €8,687 were outstanding.

ERJK wants to know how Belobrovtsev will pay his debt to Complex Consult OÜ, and if there is interest. "In order to assess the conditions under which the transaction was carried out, it is necessary to know whether and what interest was paid for the transaction," Oviir said.

In December, Belobrovtsev told the ERJK that payment is taking place on the basis of a payment schedule and the final payment will take place around 2024. In addition, he confirmed that after the final payment of the debt, he would also pay the creditor a service fee and interest.

In January of this year, Belobrovtsev explained to the ERJK that a general agreement has been made with Complex Consult OÜ - once a month he pays at least €200, after the final payment he will pay 10 percent interest per year and also service fees. The ERJK was confused as to what fees Belobrovtsev was referring to.

In April, Belobrovtsev replied that he would return the loan instead, and according to the ERJK, the politician interprets the debt as a loan. "The Political Parties Act only allows borrowing from a bank, but does not apply this requirement to ordinary transactions carried out under market conditions in daily economic activities, and a transaction that violates the conditions provided in the same section is considered a prohibited donation," Oviir wrote.

According to the ERJK, the agreement submitted by the Center Party member is too general - there is no payment schedule for the payment of the invoice, no interest calculation based on it and no term for the payment of interest.

"In order to assess the transaction, the committee must verify the final payment of the entire invoice, the correctness of the interest calculation and the payment of accrued interest. As there is no payment schedule in the agreement, the interest calculation can be made according to the actual payments and the outstanding balance by the date of payment of each installment," Oviir said.

Oviir explained to Belobrovtsev that if he does not pay interest or pays less than specified in the agreement, then the Center Party member has received a discount. "Whether or not the transaction has taken place on concessional terms can be assessed by the committee after receiving evidence of all the liabilities related to the transaction," Oviir added.

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Editor: Helen Wright

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