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Center Party to contest party financing watchdog's €220,000 injunction

Center Party Secretary General Mihhail Korb.
Center Party Secretary General Mihhail Korb. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

The Center Party is planning to contest an injunction of the Estonian Supervisory Committee on Party Financing (ERJK) for the payment of €220,000, Center Party Secretary General Mihhail Korb said.

Korb told BNS that the party's leadership on Monday discussed the committee's injunction and, after deliberating various aspects, decided to contest the injunction in court.

According to Korb, when contesting the injunction in court, the party plans on using the same arguments to defend its standpoints as they used when responding to the committee.

At the beginning of July, the ERJK issued an injunction to the Center Party, as it had been covertly funded years prior by way of the sale of a portion of a house in Tartu to longtime party campaign master Paavo Pettai. According to the injunction, the party must pay €220,000 into the state budget.

"According to proof gathered from multiple sources, the committee has concluded that Paavo Pettai did not pay for the house from his personal assets and that this was not the transfer of the sale price to the party, but, according to the Political Parties Act, the accepting of a forbidden donation in the sum of €220,000," the report of the committee's hearing stated.

The ERJK issued a letter for the hearing of the Center Party in which it requested that the party present its opinion on the matter, possible objections and proof to confirm these objections. According to the committee, the party's response did not indicate circumstances which would disprove the committee's proof.

The Center Party received the portion of the house in Tartu as an inheritance in 2010. One year later, the party then sold the property to Pettai, its long-term cooperation partner, for €250,000, who in turn signed a preliminary contract to resell the property for just €32,000.

€30,000 property sold for over seven times value

Although Pettai claimed that the sale took place in 2014 in the amount of €200,000, it was proven in district court during a court procedure concerning the notice of assessment issued to him at the end of last year that the transaction was in fact carried out in the sum of €30,000 and the rest of the price was fictive.

As a result, the ERJK grew suspicious that the transaction may have involved the covert funding of the party in the sum of €220,000, as the party was paid over seven times more for the property than its actual worth of €30,000.

The minutes of committee hearings indicate that the committee at the beginning of the year requested clarification from the Center Party concerning the circumstances related to the transaction, but the party refused to provide explanations by referring to the criminal case of former longtime party chairman Edgar Savisaar, which has since reached the courts.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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