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Estonian government collapses over massive corruption probe

Juri Ratas, right, is seen in this photo leaving the parliament building in Tallinn, Estonia, after resigning as prime minister. (By AFP)

Estonia’s Prime Minister Juri Ratas has resigned against the backdrop of an investigation into a corruption scandal involving his left-leaning Centre party.

The premier on Wednesday handed his letter of resignation to President Kersti Kaljulaid.

“The suspicion expressed by the public prosecutor’s office … does not mean that someone is definitely guilty, but it will inevitably cast a serious shadow over all those involved,” Ratas said on his Facebook page.

The president now has 14 days to name a new prime minister, who will have to be approved by parliament. There will be elections if no candidate for premier can command a majority among lawmakers.

The Baltic country has been rocked by a massive corruption scandal involving a property developer called Porto Franco. The real estate firm received a 39-million-euro state loan and struck a lucrative deal with authorities in Tallinn for a development project on the capital’s waterfront.

The mayor is a prominent member of the Centre party.

Investigators have alleged that members of the property firm made large donations to the party to secure the massive deal.

State Prosecutor Taavi Pern said at a press conference on Tuesday the Center is suspected of trading in influence peddling.

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