Centre Party could be hit with fines as high as €250,000

Estonian newspapers (picture is illustrative).
Estonian newspapers (picture is illustrative). Source: Postimees/Scanpix

The Centre Party may be hit with fines totaling as much as €250,000, according to recent reports in the Estonian media, ERR's online news in Estonian reports. The fines relate to various infringements in a complex case, including both the corruption accusations party founder Edgar Savisaar faced through 2017-2018, together with several co-defendants, and an alleged illegal donation from businessman Paavo Pettai, as well as earlier potentially illicit donations during the Savisaar era.

Daily Postimees stated that the party conceded that it had received illicit donations, while business daily Äripäev revealed the figure above, ten times that Secretary General of the Party, Mikhail Korb, had previously said the party owed in fines (i.e. €25,000).

According to Postimees, Centre chair, and prime minister, Jüri Ratas, spoke to Prosecutor General Lavly Perling some months ago regarding the case and its future developments, but not the terms of any fines agreements.

Since Centre already has significant debts and financial obligations, fines totalling €250,000 would cause it to struggle, Postimees notes. In 2018, it reportedly spent over €300,000 more than it brought in.

At the same time, Edgar Savisaar's own corruption case was abandoned after moving up all three levels of Estonia's court system, with Savisaar's health being the deciding factor.

Additionally, businessman Hillar Teder, who stood accused of bribing Savisaar, admitted in June that he had helped covertly fund the party in 2014.

In July 2018, the party had been ordered to pay back €220,000 it had received from a company belonging to businessman Paavo Pettai. Pettai's company had made the transfer to Centre's account (the total sum was €250,000), ostensibly for a share in a property purchase in Tartu.

Centre appealed the order to return the money, made by the Supervisory Committee on Party Financing (ERJK), but this was overruled by the Supreme Court in December.

Since 2017, the ERJK has been additionally pursuing Centre for €110,100 in earlier allegedly illicit donations during Savisaar's time at the helm.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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