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Parliamentary speaker calls for auditor general's suspension over expenses claims

The Chancellery Commission may decide to suspend Tytti Yli-Viikari while an investigation is ongoing.

Tytti Yli-Viikari
Auditor General of the National Audit Office of Finland (VTV) Tytti Yli-Viikari. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva
Yle News

The Speaker of Parliament's office has proposed that Finland's auditor general, who is in charge of the body overseeing proper use of government money, be suspended from her position pending the outcome of a formal investigation into her expenses claims.

The proposed suspension of Tytti Yli-Viikari, the auditor general of the National Audit Office of Finland (VTV), now goes to parliament's Chancellery Commission on Tuesday.

However, according to Yle's information, the Chancellery Commission is unlikely to make a final decision on Tuesday as Yli-Viikari will be given time after the meeting to prepare a possible response.

Tabloid Ilta-Sanomat reported last week (external link in Finnish) that Yli-Viikari spent some 4,729 euros of public money on hairdressing and beauty services between 2018 and 2020.

The paper also reported that there were questions over the auditor general's use of an agency credit card to cover other personal expenses as well as her travel costs. An Yle investigation has revealed that Yli-Viikari's travel expenses were the highest of all 55 heads of Finland's state agencies.

Warning led to investigation

In January, Iltalehti reported on an exceptional termination of employment agreement that resulted in a civil servant being paid a salary for two years on the condition they did no work.

That was the result of an agreement between Yli-Viikari and Mikko Koiranen, VTV's Director of Legal Affairs, which resulted in both civil servants receiving a warning from the Parliamentary Ombudsman.

This led to the Parliamentary Audit Committee announcing that it would begin an investigation into VTV's internal financial and risk management, including the agency's travel expenses.

Finland's Speaker of Parliament Anu Vehviläinen (Cen) said on Saturday that Yli-Viikari's alleged actions undermined the agency's credibility as one of VTV's main responsibilities is to monitor the use of public funds.

Yli-Viikari released a statement over the weekend denying she had committed any crime, but refused to comment further as a preliminary probe into the matter has been launched by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI).

The NBI has confirmed that it is investigating the activities of two VTV officials, but has not revealed their identities.

The possible dismissal of Yli-Viikari from her position would ultimately be decided by a plenary session of Parliament. In practice, this decision would only be made after the Chancellery Commission's report on Yli-Viikari has been completed, which is likely to be after Easter.

Yli-Viikari's six-year term as Auditor General is due to end later this year.

Sources: Yle, Ilta-Sanomat, Iltalehti

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