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Center Party contesting committee’s injunction to pay €220,000 to state

Paavo Pettai testifying in Harju County Court on Thursday. Aug. 17, 2017.
Paavo Pettai testifying in Harju County Court on Thursday. Aug. 17, 2017. Source: (Siim Lõvi/ERR)

The Center Party is contesting an injunction of the Supervisory Committee on Party Financing for the payment of €220,000.

“The injunction has been handed to the court,” the party’s secretary general, Mihhail Korb, told BNS on Tuesday. “The notice of appeal was submitted on Aug. 16 and the court is processing the appeal.”

In early July the Supervisory Committee on Party Financing issued an injunction to the Center Party, as years ago the party had been funded secretly by way of a sales transaction of a part of a house in Tartu to the party’s advertising and campaign partner, Paavo Pettai. According to the injunction, the party has to pay €220,000 to the state.

“After seeing proof gathered from multiple sources, the committee concludes that Paavo Pettai did not pay for the house from his personal assets, and that we are not dealing with the transfer of the price to the party, but with a forbidden donation in the sum of €220,000 according to the Political Parties Act,” the report of the committee hearing read.

The committee issued a letter to the Center Party in which it requested that the party present its opinion on the matter, possible objections, and proof to confirm the latter. The committee added that the party’s response didn’t indicate anything that would disprove what they had already seen.

The Center Party came into possession of the part of the house in Tartu as an inheritance in 2010. The party sold the property to Pettai for €250,000 in 2011, who in turn signed a preliminary contract to resell the property for €32,000 euros.

Even though Pettai said that the transaction took place in 2014 in the amount of €200,000, a court actually confirmed at the end of last year that the transaction had really only amounted to €30,000, and that the rest of the price had been fictive.

The committee then suspected that the transaction may have involved the secret funding of the party in the amount of €220,000: if Pettai’s contract was accurate, the party had been paid approximately eight times as much as the real estate was worth.

The protocols of the committee hearings indicate that it asked for clarifications earlier this year concerning the circumstances of the transaction. But the party refused to offer any more explanations, referring to the criminal case against former party chairman Edgar Savisaar.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

Source: BNS

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