Friday 9/17/21
BALTICS

Estonian premier Ratas resigns over party corruption allegations

The premises of the state funding agency Kredex have already been searched by police, and four people were taken into custody.
FILED - 11 October 2019, Estonia, Tallinn: Juri Ratas, Prime Minister of Estonia, takes part in a meeting with the German Defence Minister. Ratas stepped down on Wednesday from his post in connection with corruption allegations against his Centre Party. Photo: Monika Skolimowska/dpa-Zentralbild/dpa
Prime Minister of Estonia, Juri Ratas, stepped down from his post in connection with corruption allegations. Photo: Monika Skolimowska/dpa.

Estonia's Prime Minister Juri Ratas has announced his resignation in connection with corruption allegations against his Centre Party.

He wanted to take on political responsibility and give the opportunity to clarify the allegations, Ratas said Wednesday in the Baltic country's capital, Tallinn.

Judicial authorities in the EU member state had previously launched investigations into a state aid loan to a real estate project, according to the prosecutor general.

The premises of the state funding agency Kredex have already been searched by police, and four people were taken into custody.

Suspects include the party secretary general, an adviser to the finance minister and a real estate developer who has often donated to the party - which is also under suspicion as a legal entity.

The prosecutor general, Taavi Pern, said there is no reason to suggest, however, that Ratas himself had any knowledge of what was going on.

40 million loan

The investigation was spurred by a nearly 40-million-euro (48-million-dollar) loan granted by Kredex over the summer for the development of a real estate project in Tallinn.

The much-discussed decision is said to have been preceded by unauthorized agreements.

A large donation to the party ahead of autumn elections is said to also have been tied to the state loan decision, according to Pern.

Ratas has governed his left-leaning Centre Party with the right-wing populist Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE) and conservative Isamaa - both of which have demanded explanations.

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