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Youth Foundation directors get their day in court

The former leadership of the Youth Foundation goes on trial on Tuesday in one of the biggest cases stemming from the campaign finance scandals of recent years.

Antti Kaikkonen & Jukka Vihriälä
Kaikkonen and Vihriälä Image: Yle Uutisgrafiikka

Those facing possible prison terms include Centre Party MP Antti Kaikkonen and the former head of the Slot Machine Association, Jukka Vihriälä. They deny any wrongdoing.

Among other charges, the defendants are accused of paying inflated prices for artwork and books to raise money for candidates, mostly from the Centre Party.

The accused deny all charges. Kaikkonen’s lawyer argued that support for political parties was not forbidden, and that the organisation had to be an influential actor in society.

The prosecutor pointed out that Kaikkonen had acted as both buyer and seller in the transactions, and that his role as an advocate for young people was not a justification for the Youth Foundation’s support for his campaigns.

Jorma Heikkinen, who had worked as a lawyer at the Youth Foundation, argued that supporting the Centre party was part of its remit.

The Youth Foundation, a non-profit housing group, has traditionally been directed by Centre Party politicians including former prime minister Matti Vanhanen.

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