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Party finance watchdog wants Centre to pay back €220,000 in lump sum

The Centre Party has legally been left with no choice but to pay up the €220,000 demanded.
The Centre Party has legally been left with no choice but to pay up the €220,000 demanded. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

The Estonian Supervisory Committee on Party Financing (ERJK) does not want to give the Centre Party the opportunity to pay back in instalments the €220,000 deemed by the courts to be a prohibited donation.

"The committee finds that the fulfilment of the injunction in instalments, which hints at a shortage of assets, is not justified," the ERJK notified the Centre Party this week regarding the money involved in the sale and purchase of a building in Tartu between Paavo Pettai and the Centre Party.

According to the letter, signed by committee chair Liisa Oviir, the Centre Party was aware of the potential obligation in connection with the injunction in summer of 2017 already, and a potential obligation to this extent was described in the party's audited 2017 annual report as well.

"Based on the party board's due diligence, the sum involved in the injunction should have been taken into account in the party's financial planning for 2018, especially due to the fact that the the party knew in 2017 already of Tallinn Administrative Court's decision to reject the appeal seeking to annul the injunction," the letter stated.

The ERJK issued an injunction to the Centre Party, ordering it to pay a prohibited donation in the amount of €220,000 into the state budget. The party took the injunction to court, halting its fulfilment until the entry of force of the court ruling on the matter, which took place after the Supreme Court of Estonia rejected the party's appeal last December.

In a notice to the Centre Party, the ERJK noted that, as a result, the deadline for fulfilling the 2017 injunction was 11 December 2018. The party finance watchdog also reminded the party that the sum was accruing interest at a rate of 0.85% per day.

Party lawyer: Lump sum would be impossible

The Centre Party had requested to repay the €220,000 in question into the state budget in instalments.

"The annual report for the fiscal year 2017 confirms that the nonprofit MTÜ Eesti Keskerakond has more obligations than assets, meaning that obligations exceed assets by €239,000," stated a letter sent by a Centre Party attorney to the ERJK in December. "According to the annual report for the fiscal year, the party planned to save on costs in 2018 in order to finally restore its net assets. Considering the party's financial situation, fulfilling an obligation in the sum of €220,000 in one payment would be impossible."


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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