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Nova Group: politicians begged for money

Criminal proceedings relating to the bankruptcy of Nova group, a company linked to an election funding scandal, began at Helsinki District Court on Friday. One of the main defendants says “politicians asked for money on their knees.”

Tapani Yli-Saunamäki
Tapani Yli-Saunamäki Image: YLE

Arto Merisalo and Tapani Yli-Saunamäki stand accused of false accounting, along with five other people who held leadership positions at Nova group. Prosecutors argue that the men channelled hundreds of thousands of euros in election campaign financing, gave soft loans to favoured contacts and splurged on several expensive cars, despite Nova's poor financial shape.

The prosecution is seeking unconditional prison sentences for Merisalo, Yli-Saunamäki and one other person, and conditional prison sentences for four Nova group leaders.

Nova’s bankruptcy estate is demanding 6.2 million euros in damages from Merisalo, Yli-Saunamäki and five others.

The defendants deny all charges.

Hidden interests

Nova Group is a now-bankrupt real estate development company accused of channelling large sums of money to another real estate development company, KMS (Association of Developing Finnish Provinces), despite its own shaky finances before declaring bankruptcy.

KMS passed the cash on to several parties, primarily the Centre and National Coalition.

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