National Alliance political party told to pay back 210,000 euros

The Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) has decided to suspend the payment of state budget funding to the opposition National Alliance (NA) political party for one year, as it is deemed to have significantly exceeded the permissible limit of spending state budget funding for communication with the public and political agitation in 2022, according to the anti-graft force, which also monitors political funding.

KNAB found that the National Alliance spent 554,627.19 euros on its public communications and political advertising, which is 210,673.59 euros more than the legal limit.

Consequently KNAB made a decision on suspending the payment of future state budget funding for one year on June 11 of this year.

KNAB cannot yet specify how much state funding the National Alliance will forfeit this year, as its calculations also include the votes obtained in this year's European Parliament elections, KNAB representative Agita Antonāne told to Latvian Radio. However, the party will have to pay back the excess 210,673.59 euros.

KNAB said it does not have information on whether the party will appeal its decisions, but Jānis Grasbergs, a member of the board of the National Alliance and a member of the Saeima, confirmed to Latvian Radio that it will appeal, saying that it had not exceeded spending limits because some of the money used had been saved from previous years.

"There is a legal battle of arguments that we will definitely leave to the lawyers," Grasbergs said.

Under Latvia's political funding law, parties are allotted funding based on their performance in elections. That money comes with strict rules. Parties may use state funding for three purposes only: maintenance of their offices, the substantive work of the party, and political agitation or public communication. More than 60% of the state funding may not be spent on any one of the expenditure groups.

It is this 60% limit that the National Association is accused of exceeding, having spent almost 555,000 euros on election campaigning in 2022, although the 60% limit in its own case was 344,000 euros.

In total, the National Association received 573,000 euros from the state that year, but spent much more, as it had a balance of funds from the previous year worth another 183,000 euros. Parties may spend the allocated state funding within three years of receipt, otherwise it must be returned.

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