Center Party to hold meeting on whether to pay €1 million fine

Center Party headquarters in Tallinn.
Center Party headquarters in Tallinn. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Center Party says it will discuss whether to return a sum of around one million euros, adjudged to constitute an illegal donation, following a court decision Friday which largely upheld an earlier ruling on the matter.

The second-tier Tallinn Circuit Court upheld, for the most part, a decision by the first-tier administrative court to the effect that the political parties financing watchdog, the ERJK, was right in issuing a precept to Center, requiring it to return the sum, which related to services provided for the party's political campaigning over a number of years but which had not been adequately invoiced for.

Center Party secretary general Andre Hanimagi said that since a million euros was a major sum for one party, simply paying it back without reflection would not be possible.

Hänimägi said that: "As the decision just came out, we have not yet been able to discuss it with the board. The board will analyze the court ruling together with lawyers and after that we can make some kind of a decision."

When this meeting might take place was not clear as of Friday evening, BNS reports.

Hänimägi also said that the length of time that had elapsed since the period in focus, this would require more investigation.

He said: "We will certainly also review the reasoning of the circuit court as to why ERJK's methodology is justified in this way. We are talking about the period 2009-2016; this is an event that took place almost ten years ago. We are certain that advertising campaigns for this period are covered by contracts and invoices."

"It is also the case that that, according to the [circuit] court, the ERJK's methodology for calculating the amount to be reimbursed continues to be justified. We will need to look into this to form an opinion," Hanimagi continued.

The one million euros in question referred to work done by Midfield OÜ, a company owned by Paavo Pettai, who was Center's campaign manager at the time.

More details on the circuit court's Friday ruling are here.

Center has in the recent past faced large fines. A €220,000 fine issued in respect of other donations judged to be illicit, also involving Paavo Pettai, ended up seeing the party have to pay little more than a tenth of that figure to state coffers.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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