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PM’s children sell off stake in engineering firm that won order from state mining company

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s children have sold off their shares in engineering firm Katera Steel. The firm won a half-million-euro order from taxpayer-funded Terrafame mining company, landing Sipilä in the centre of a conflict of interest controversy.

Terrafame Oy:n Talvivaaran kaivos.
Prime Minister Juha Sipilä tweeted Tuesday that his children had sold off their stake in the controversial Terrafame mine, formerly known as Talvivaara. Image: Pasi Peiponen / Yle

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä took to microblogging site Twitter on Tuesday to reveal that his children had offloaded their shares in Katera Steel, a company owned by Sipilä’s relatives.

Sipilä tweeted in Finnish that Fortel Invest, the investment holding company that held the Katera Steel shares on his children’s behalf, had sold their five percent stake.

"FYI: Fortel Invest Oy's company holdings 10.1.2017: Gasek Oy 1.19 %, Chempolis Oy 5.25 % and Oyj Ahola Transport Abb 0.89%," the PM wrote in the update.

Katera Steel chief executive Markku Jauhiainen told Yle that the company purchased the five-percent holding from Fortel Invest in December. However he did not disclose the deal’s price tag.

Conflict of interest controversy

In December, Sipilä became embroiled in a controversy over a possible conflict of interest when it was reported that Katera Steel had received a contract valued at 500,000 euros from the state-owned mining operation Terrafame, previously known as Talvivaara Mining Company.

The loss-making mining operation had received hundreds of millions of euros in taxpayer funds to help keep it afloat while the government tried to find private sector investors.

Just days before the deal with Katera Stell went through, Sipilä had approved an additional 100 million euros in funding for the cash-strapped venture. 

Back in 2013, Sipilä had transferred his ownership in Fortel Invest to his children. Katera Steel’s main owners are the Prime Minister’s uncles and cousins.

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