Anti-corruption agency eyes on leading parties' pre-election spending

The Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB) has found violations in the pre-election spending of several political parties for the 12th Saeima elections, reported Ivo Leitāns, a correspondent of Latvian Radio.

KNAB has found violations in the leading coalition parties' Unity (Vienotība), Greens and Farmers Alliance (Zaļo un Zemnieku savienība). There is suspicion about the opposition parties Harmony (Saskaņa) and the so-called "ex-prime ministers" party United For Latvia (Vienoti Latvijai).

KNAB checked the parties' and their respective unions' spending statements about the 12th Saeima elections with an emphasis on election campaigning done by third persons, when a person unrelated to the party has individually campaigned for a party of a particular candidate of the party.

The Bureau has concluded that more than 70 persons have campaigned this way for a total of 140,000 euro. Almost half of that sum should have been added to election expenses, because these persons that campaigned for a party or candidate were in fact related to the political power and acted in coordination with it.

The leading Unity party seems to be in particularly dire straits, as it has overspent the allowed sum for the election. The party had appealed the decision, but the appeal was rejected and the party was fined 4300 euros. If it is enforced, the party risks of losing state financing. 

KNAB had previously concluded that some of the campaign materials for some Unity's candidates, materials paid by third persons were in fact accountable in the party budget. 

Due to its results in the 12th Saeima election, Unity is qualified to receive 140,000 euros from the state budget. The law states that parties can use this money to cover everyday expenses, such as rent, communication bills, wages and campaigning.

However, state financing is cut if KNAB decides to fine the party for a financing violation. For example, it could be cut for deals or donations over 36,000 euros not found in the party's statement.

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