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Finland’s Prosecutor General suspended indefinitely on suspicion of corruption

Prosecutor General of Finland Matti Nissinen. Source: Wikimedia / MakeF - CC3.

This material belongs to: Business Insider Nordic.

For a country that prides itself on its honest character, the ongoing investigation into nepotism over a prolonged period by one of the country’s top legal eagles has comes as a shock – or rude awakening, depending on the viewpoint.

Prosecutor General Matti Nissanen is the subject of scrutiny by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) for conflict of interest and violation of official duties by hiring his brother’s company for training purposes over the course of eight years.

Finland usually rank’s high on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index and is currently ranked third out of 176 nations with a score of 89/100. Only Denmark and New Zealand score higher when it comes to the important morality stakes, though TI says cuttingly, “No nation comes close to a perfect score,” with the top two on 90.

National Bureau of Investigation headquarters, Vantaa, Finland. Source: Wikimedia / Htm – CC3.

The NBI was reported by state broadcaster YLE to have completed its preliminary sleuthing and given the brief to the Chancellor of Justice – not the Prosecutor general’s office as would be the case in other circumstances.

The company involved, Deep Lead, has, as its Chair, Colonel Vesa Nissinen who also happens to be the Director of the Finnish Defence Research Agency as well as a majority owner of the company. YLE reports that Deep Lead has been paid €74,000 ($90,000) for providing training services up to 2015.

The story broke last February in Finland’s highly respected current affairs weekly magazine Suomen Kuvalehti.

As the relationship started three years before Matti Nissinen became Prosecutor General in 2010, he refutes breaking any laws, but admitted that he had made, “A mistake in handling the matter.” Accordingly, he requested to be put on leave in March with his deputy taking over temporarily. This leave has now turned into indefinite suspension and will in all likelihood be permanent as President Ninnistö is to name a new permanent prosecutor general soon.

The NBI for its part states that Nissinen should not have been involved at all in the decision to contract Deep Lead, which had rather suspiciously been his idea originally. Equally damming is a long complimentary appraisal of Deep Lead’s work on the company’s website by Matti Nissinen.

I feel badly for the whole prosecutor’s office because of this, Matti Nissinen was quoted as saying, “As nobody else has done anything except me. I’m prepared to help as much as l can. It is now out of my hands, l don’t have any skeletons waiting to come out and l expect justice to prevail.”