Estonian Prime Minister resigns over corruption scandal

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas announced his resignation amid a corruption scandal related to issuing a state loan to the Porto Franco real estate developer in Tallinn.

Ratas stepped down this morning after the Estonian Prosecutor’s Office named him his Center party and Secretary-General Mihhail Korb as suspects in a criminal investigation into possible corruption in relation to allegations of influence peddling and bribery.

Ratas said in a statement published on Facebook that the suspicions lodged by the Office of the Prosecutor General «do not mean that someone is definitely guilty», but have a serious impact on the reputation of all the parties involved in the case, and his resignation would help «achieve clarity».

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, Estonian businessman Hillar Teder and politician Korb agreed to donate up to €1 million to the Centre party ahead of local elections. For this, Porto Franco company, owned by Teder, received a €39 million loan given by state credit agency KredEx last year under a scheme designed to help businesses hit by the pandemic.

In addition, an investigation is underway against adviser to the Minister of Finance Kersti Kracht, who is suspected of influence peddling in providing the loan to Porto Franco on favorable terms.

The names of two more suspects have not yet been disclosed.

According to local media, under the constitution, Ratas resignation will lead to the dissolution of the current government, with Ratas likely continuing to act as a caretaker Prime Minister until a new one is formed.