Prosecutors: Clouds of Suspicion Hang Over Reform Party Scandal



Prosecutors' documents paint an unflattering picture of the Reform Party as a syndicate or ruling family and say a presumption of dirty dealing hovers over the case even though the evidence did not stick.

Of the 60 witnesses called in by prosecutors in the now-dismissed criminal case into the Reform Party's funding contributions, nearly all provided what prosecutors described as specious explanations about the origin of the money.

Loans from mother-in-laws, unexpected windfalls, home safes, proceeds from precious metals investments - all of these factored in the explanations, many more than once, according to prosecutors.

In the end, lead Public Prosecutor Heili Sepp speculated in her decision to end the proceedings, the members' loyalty to the Reform Party may have outweighed the spirit in which a renegade member originally exposed the culture of funneling cash donations from unnamed businessmen through party members.

"Confessing to the scheme described by Silver Meikar and description of similar experiences at questioning would have been clearly harmful to the Reform Party, as had even one such case been proven as part of this criminal case, it would have meant that the Reform Party would have been criminally liable, a situation that the party would understandably wish to avoid," the Sepp stated in her October 15 decision.

One witness was quoted in the prosecutor's file as saying: "The party takes care of its own. The party really has a problem right now that it selects people based on loyalty, not on what your abilities are."

"The problem is not the financing but the fact that people are forced out of loyalty to decide according to what is best for the party," the unnamed witness continued.

Sepp wrote that the family-like ties were also shown by the fact that many witnesses used the same lawyer, who would stay in the room while witnesses changed.

The prosecution's report also mentions the media offensive mounted by the Reform Party to discredit Meikar, who broke the scandal, and to describe the contribution scheme as normal. Sepp argues that it had a clear psychological influence on party members.

"Considering the psychological influences, motives and background, we must believe that if personal sources of testimony that would substantiate the statements of Meikar did in fact exist, the likelihood that they would actually give the testimony would be negligible, due to the conflicting interests that they would have had as members of the party," Sepp said.

Source: ERR