Markus TereniusKRP’s senior detective superintendent, refused to disclose the cases to the newspaper for operational reasons.
“The investigation is still ongoing and at least there is nothing more to say at this point,” he commented.
The inquiries were launched on the basis of the findings of the granting organizations. Business Finland and the ELY Centers have reported dozens of suspected misconduct to law enforcement authorities, which have led to six preliminary investigations.
Support for the financial problems caused by the pandemic was also provided by municipalities, the Finnish Food Safety Authority, the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom) and the State Treasury. One of the problems faced by such organizations is that they were not able to check the criminal records of the applicants in advance.
Similar cases have occurred elsewhere in Europe. Eurojust, the EU agency responsible for coordinating cooperation in criminal matters, in April reported Italy has suffered losses of around € 440 million due to criminals taking advantage of pandemic support schemes.
It has investigated some 85,000 companies and 150,000 business representatives who have received financial support during the pandemic, and identified 363 people convicted of financial crimes, representing 407 companies.
The tax administration conducted its survey by comparing representatives of companies that received financial support in 2016–2020 with the criminal record. No criminal conviction was identified as an obstacle to receiving the aid, but if it had been clarified and the applicants’ background had been clarified, the amount of aid would have been EUR 15 million lower.
As a general rule, the organizations responsible for granting the aid did not have the right to examine the applicants’ criminal history, even though such information could have been relevant, e.g. the likelihood of the beneficiary paying the tax.
Helsingin Sanomat emphasized that the potential irregularities detected are insignificant in relation to the total value of the support schemes. According to its own study, more than € 2.4 billion has been allocated to some 60,500 companies so far during the pandemic.
The tax administration’s study, on the other hand, deals with the € 1.6 billion subsidy distributed in 2020.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: The Nordic Page