ERJK: SALK'S advice to political parties may be form of prohibited donation

SALK Director Tarmo Jüristo.
SALK Director Tarmo Jüristo. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

According to Liisa Oviir, head of Estonia's Political Parties Financing Surveillance Committee (ERJK), the activities of the Liberal Citizen Foundation (SALK) in the run-up to the Riigikogu elections could be considered prohibited donations. Oviir explained that this is why the committee has requested further details from the political parties concerned.

"Considering what was published in the newspaper and what the law says, the members of the commission still had the feeling that [the act of] commissioning such surveys, sharing their results, analyzing them and making recommendations based on them, could qualify as the provision of a service," Oviir told ERR after the commission's meeting on Thursday.

"After all, there are quite a lot of companies on the market offering these kinds of services," Oviir said, adding that in the ERJK's view, such services were considered the same from a legal perspective, even if provided by NGOs.

"The committee's view at the moment is still that this is, in the legal sense, the provision of a service," she added.

Oviir said, that since ERJK cannot make decisions solely on the basis of a newspaper article, it decided to send requests to all the political parties mentioned in the article - in particular the Reform Party, Eesti 200 and the Social Democratic Party (SDE), but also Isamaa, the Center Party and  Parempoolsed.

"We will ask them to confirm whether they received the results of the survey. We will also ask what other services they received as part of the analysis and recommendations. And we will ask whether they have paid for that service," Oviir said.

Oviir noted, that if it turns out political parties, or a political party, has received such services without paying for them, it would qualify as a prohibited donation, which according to the Political Parties Act, must be returned to the donor, in this case SALK. The Political Parties Act stipulates, that donations made to political parties by legal persons are prohibited.

"If it is a prohibited donation, then we will issue an order to return that prohibited donation," Oviir said.

Two weeks ago, Estonian daily news outlet Eesti Ekspress published an article focusing on how SALK, which is led by prominent businessmen Tarmo Jüristo, tried to influence the Riigikogu election results by assisting the Reform Party, Eesti 200 and the Social Democratic Party (SDE) to succeed.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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