International - Written by Barry & Richard on Sunday, January 20, 2013 15:23 - 0 Comments
Focus on Finland 2:Markus Kokko of Borenius on bribery law in Finland – some recent cases
Taking a brief look at two of the most widely publicised bribery cases of 2012 gives a nice picture of the practical application of the law.
In the first case, Helsinki District Court convicted a Finnish National Coalition Party MP and the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of aggravated acceptance of a bribe and dereliction of duty.
The charges involved the defendant’s activities as chairman of the Regional Council of Southwest Finland between 2006 and 2008. According to the State Prosecutor, four businessmen had contributed tens of thousands of Euros to the defendant’s 60th birthday celebrations in 2008 and to his election campaign fund with the aim of obtaining favourable decisions on zoning matters from the regional council.
The defendant was given a suspended prison sentence of one year and three months. He appealed the judgment and the case is currently pending before the Court of Appeal of Helsinki.
The second case involved suspicions of bribery which arose from an agreement under which the CEO of the Finnish airline Finnair sold his apartment for EUR 1.8 million to a pension insurance company, also a one of the largest holders of Finnair stock.
The Finnair CEO stayed on in the apartment as the pension insurance company’s tenant, with Finnair paying the rent. This arrangement was proposed by Finnair’s former Chairman of the Board. Other business operations that the two companies had around the same time were also under review. These included a deal in which the pension insurance company became a shareholder in Nordic Global Airlines, Finnair’s air freight carrier.
Despite the questionable nature of the agreement, the Deputy Prosecutor-General announced on 10 September 2012 that the Finnair CEO would not be charged with accepting a bribe. The CEO and the Deputy CEO of the pension insurance company (both suspected of giving a bribe), and Finnair’s former Chairman of the Board (suspected of giving and acceptance of a bribe) avoided prosecution as well.
Key take aways
In addition to being high-profile, these cases illustrate how the threshold for a benefit being considered a bribe is lower when the matter concerns a public official or elected Member of Parliament.
Under no circumstances may benefits of any kind be provided in exchange for any action or inaction by the official related to their duties. It is imperative that confidence towards the independence of exercising the parliamentary mandate not be compromised.
Though suspicions of bribery in business are taken seriously as well, the accepted interest of fostering loyalty creates for a higher threshold.
Markus heads Attorneys at law Borenius’ Dispute Resolution and Insolvency Group. Markus advises regularly in white collar crimes.
Borenius was Established in 1911, Attorneys at law Borenius is one of the largest and most experienced law firms in Finland.