Estonian PM steps down as party embroiled in corruption probe

Berlin, Jan 13 (efe-epa).- Estonia’s prime minister Jüri Ratas on Wednesday tendered his resignation after his Centre Party was cited as a suspect in a corruption scandal linked to a property development project in Tallinn.

Ratas, prime minister since 2016, told a news conference that his resignation was his “political responsibility” although he denied any wrongdoing or involvement in the alleged corruption.

“In politics, very difficult choices need to be made to solve difficult situations,” he wrote on his Facebook following a round of discussions with his party.

He added in the statement that the state attorney general and the police confirmed he was not named among the suspects in the case but that by standing aside he could facilitate the investigation.

Prosecutors in the Baltic nation, a member of the European Union and Nato, are investigating a 39-million-euro ($47.5M) credit loan approved in 2020 for the development of the Porto Franco project in the capital in July.

The loan is being managed by state credit service Kredex.

Prosecutors believe there were illegal negotiations involved in the operation.

The secretary-general of the Centre Party, Mihhail Korb, and the party itself have both been named as suspects in the inquiry. Police detained four people in relation to the case on Tuesday.

The resignation of the prime minister automatically spells the end to the three-party government, comprising the unlikely bedfellows of the Centre Party, the far-right EKRE and the conservative Isamaa party.

Ratas will likely act as interim prime minister until a new government is formed. EFE-EPA

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