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Estonian prime minister Juri Ratas resigns amid corruption allegations

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By Euronews
Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas ahead of a cabinet meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019
Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas ahead of a cabinet meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Raul Mee
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Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas said he would resign on Wednesday amid corruption allegations against his political party.

Estonia's Public Prosecutor alleged that members of the Centre Party, including Secretary-General Mihhail Korb, had engaged in influence-peddling related to a real estate development in Porto Franco.

Estonian businessman Hillar Teder had agreed to donate up to one million euros to the Centre Party in exchange for the right to build a car park in favour of the real estate development, the public prosecutor's office alleges.

"The evidence collected from the middle of January last year to the present refers to various crimes, on the basis of which public proceedings were initiated against people suspected of a crime today," Chief Public Prosecutor Taavi Pern said in a post on Facebook, laying out other money-laundering allegations as well.

"The suspicion expressed by the Public Prosecutor's Office, which became public today, does not mean that someone is definitely guilty, but they will inevitably cast a serious shadow over all those involved," PM Ratas wrote in a post on Facebook.

"In such a situation, it seems only right that, by resigning myself, I will give the opportunity to shed light on all the circumstances and to come to terms with clarity."

Ratas said however that he had "not committed or approved any act that infringes rights or the sense of justice while leading the party."

Ratas has been prime minister since 2016 and the Estonian president will now have to appoint his replacement.