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PM Sipilä says he hasn't considered giving up ownership steering job

Finland's Prime Minister Juha Sipilä says he won't give up the ministerial portfolio for steering stakes held in companies by the Finnish state. After a series of recent revelations about his family ties to various companies, he had faced calls to give up the job which is normally handled by a minister on top of their regular duties, but is rarely taken on by the premier.

Juha Sipilä
Juha Sipilä Image: Martti Kainulainen / Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä has ruled out standing down as the minister responsible for state ownership steering even as the Parliamentary Ombudsman investigates complaints that he should have recused himself from decisions about state funding for Terrafame, which subsequently awarded a 500,000 euro contract to a company owned by the Prime Minister's relatives.

On Tuesday it emerged that the Chancellor of Justice had received complaints about a trade mission to India led by Sipilä, during which a company part-owned by his children signed a deal worth 110 million euros.

On Thursday, during a visit to Poland, Sipilä was asked if he had considered stepping down as the minister responsible for state ownership steering.

Poisoned chalice

"No," answered the PM. "It is part of the Prime Minister's job, and it isn't connected to these discussions in any way."

Sipilä claimed that there had not been a single situation in which he had been unsure how to act. The portfolio for state ownership steering has traditionally been seen as something of a poisoned chalice, usually held by a less high-profile member of the government.

In October 2013 Green Minister Heidi Hautala, who held the ownership steering job alongside her post as Minister for International Development, was forced to resign after intervening to prevent the state-owned icebreaking company Arctia Shipping from filing charges against Greenpeace activists.

Investigation

Opposition parties in parliament have demanded that Sipilä clarify his links to private companies and any situations in which he should be recused from decisions.

The PM said on Thursday that he could not comment on matters under investigation by the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

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