Supreme Court rejects Center Party €850,000 illegal donations appeal

The Supreme Court has rejected an appeal by the coalition Center Party, over an illegal donation to the party. The ruling means Center must pay €850,000 to an advertising agency for work done.

The work in question, electoral advertising and campaign materials, had been carried out over several years without invoices or other payment demands being submitted by the service provider.

The Supreme Court decision leaves in force a ruling by the second-tier Tallinn Circuit Court.

The Supreme Court has stated that it shall only hear appeals if and when first- and second-tier courts have erred in applying the law in resolving incorrect court decisions, or where it is necessary for the harmonization and further development of case law in Estonia, ERR reports.

These grounds did not exist in the current situation, the Supreme Court added.

The circuit court's ruling largely upholds a Political Parties Supervision Committee (ERJK) precept which requires Center to return the €850,000, as a prohibited donation.

If VAT were included the donation would have come to one million euros, but the Supreme Court ruled that the application of VAT was not justifiable.

The ERJK is required to notify Center of the amount due, excluding VAT, within 14 days of entry into force of the court judgment.

ERJK precept No. 77 of April 8 2019 required Center to return a prohibited donation to Midfield OÜ of one million euros – in other words the sum now due, plus VAT.

The ERJK found that advertising services which Midfield provided to Center constituted a prohibited donation, while Midfield had neither invoiced nor demanded payment from Center.

Midfield had reportedly managed Center's election campaigns for the period 2009-2015, but had not submitted invoices of any significant sum owed.

Read the article at ERR.