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New claims: Former Center ad man says party still owes him €1.24 million

Paavo Pettai, about to testify in court.
Paavo Pettai, about to testify in court. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

While with the resignation of Jaak Aab it has just lost one of its most competent ministers, the Center Party continues to struggle with its colorful past. Paavo Pettai, a Tallinn businessman who supplied the party's advertising for years under then-chairman Edgar Savisaar, has now said that the party still owes him €1.24 million.

In a statement made to the Political Party Funding Supervision Committee (ERJK), Pettai wrote that there is an outstanding amount of €1.24 million in services rendered between 2009 and 2015 that he never invoiced the party for.

The issue is one in a long line of shady deals the party ran during the time of Savisaar's chairmanship. While the man himself is still on trial for a number of criminal offenses, including large-scale money laundering, the party since ousting Savisaar in 2016 has been trying to mop up the mess.

The Center Party's secretary-general, Mihhail Korb, promptly responded, saying that "you can be absolutely certain that Paavo Pettai isn't Estonia's greatest humanitarian", who was happy to not cash in more than a million euros and only says so "ten years later".

The party has paid all of the invoices issued to it by Pettai's company, Midfield OÜ. "This story years later of unissued invoices belongs into the realm of fantasy, which we're more than happy to discuss in court," Korb said.

He added that the basis for any business dealings was still a contract, not an invoice that would later be issued or not. Korb is also accusing Pettai of trying to get rich on the investigations of the Center Party on the part of the Political Party Funding Supervision Committee.

Midfield's statement goes into great detail concerning transactions between the company and the Center Party that were obfuscated, and included an officially recognized finance expert in putting together the list it included.

ERJK now has to decide who will continue looking into the Center Party's affairs, and how this will have to happen.

Deputy chairman of the committee, Kaarel Tarand, told ERR on Wednesday that they are still missing some of the information needed to start an official proceeding against the party. Tarand also said that the usefulness of such a step is questionable as long as court cases in the matter are still ongoing.

Editor: Dario Cavegn

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