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Stockpile boss suspected of crimes in mask purchase, NBI seizes emails

Jyrki Hakola was fired after approving a failed deal to buy respirators.

Finnairin one toi Kiinasta tilattuja suojavarusteita Helsinki-Vantaan lentoasemalle.
Bringing in PPE supplies has been a problem for Finland. Image: Petteri Sopanen / Yle
Egan Richardson

According to information obtained by Yle, Jyrki Hakola, a sacked manager at the national stockpile agency, is suspected of abuse of an official position. He denies the offence.

Hakola was a manager at the National Emergency Supply Agency (Nesa), which was tasked with obtaining protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic.

He had signed the contract to buy five million euros worth of respirators and surgical masks from Onni Sarmaste, an indebted payday lender.

The masks and respirators did not work and were unusable.

Investigating officer Mikko Laaksonen refused to confirm the information when asked by Yle.

"I will not comment on the suspect's identity," said Laaksonen.

Nesa sacked Hakola and another manager at the agency, Asko Harjula, at the start of this month. Harjula is not currently suspected of criminal activity.

Both were part of Nesa's senior management team.

NBI nabs emails

Officers have seized Hakola's emails from the agency's systems.

"The investigation has seized data and email inboxes from the National Emergency Supply Agency," said Laaksonen.

According to information obtained by Yle, police are looking at extensive communication between Hakola and Sarmaste related to the mask deal.

"Now we're going through the material, and analysing it," said Laaksonen.

Police plan to start interviewing Hakola and other Nesa employees in June.

NBI is investigating whether Hakola caused financial losses to Nesa, as well as whether the deals were concluded according to the law and the agency's own rules.

Sarmaste is suspected of aggravated fraud. Police have seized some three million euros and two luxury cars from him.

The agency's Managing Director Tomi Lounema resigned over the mask deals on Good Friday.

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