Helsinki Mayor Faces Misuse of Trust Allegations Amid Pohjola-Norden Investigation
Mayor Juhana Vartiainen of Helsinki, also the chair of the board for the non-governmental organization (NGO) Pohjola-Norden, is facing accusations of misusing a position of trust. These allegations appear to be connected to the activities of Pohjola-Norden, an NGO that fosters Nordic cooperation in Finland.
Vartiainen has denied these allegations, insisting that he has not committed any offence. Upon discovering the issues, he took swift action by convening a board meeting, replacing the executive director, and initiating an investigation that led to a criminal complaint and the ongoing investigation.
Investigations into Pohjola-Norden
The investigation into Pohjola-Norden started in July 2021 with a focus on the activities of its former Secretary General, Michael Oksanen. The suspected offences, believed to have occurred between 2015 and 2021, include aggravated embezzlement and misuse of a position of trust. Oksanen is suspected of embezzling funds and transferring them to a personal bank account, from which he reportedly moved money to his own accounts. Oksanen resigned from his position in May 2021.
Vartiainen is one of five suspects in the case, all of whom are suspected of misuse of a position of trust. He confirmed that he has been questioned by the police, stating that the improper arrangements had already begun before he became chair of the board.
The Political Climate
Maarit Vierunen, chair of the NCP’s Helsinki council group, admitted to knowing about the case but only learned of the allegations against Mayor Vartiainen recently. Further discussions about the case are expected to take place in a council group meeting.
The case file on the suspected offences at Pohjola-Norden has been handed over to prosecutors by the Helsinki police last week for further consideration. The investigation is ongoing and the outcome will have significant implications for the political landscape of Helsinki.
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