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Wednesday’s papers: Congolese scam, Chinese tourism, Olympic hopes

The midweek editions of Finnish newspapers include promising business signals along with odd crime stories and Olympic results and prospects.

Mira Potkonen
Image: Jukka Vahter

The biggest daily Helsingin Sanomat leads off with its investigation into a Congolese man who offered a reporter millions of dollars in an advance-fee scam. He claimed to be a woman trying to get out of Syria with her children, and promised 30 percent of an alleged 24 million stash in return for paying some 900 euros in alleged handling fees. So far this Finnish police have recorded more 12,000 cases of online fraud, up by some 40 percent from last year.

In other crime news, a man goes on trial on Wednesday on charges of setting fire to a 1786 wooden church in Ylivieska, western Finland, last Easter. The 26-year-old will only appear via video link due to an unspecified health condition.

Meanwhile police are investigating an apparent case of aggravated rape in Siikajärvi, northern Espoo, on Saturday. They believe that the victim and two male perpetrators are all adult foreigners, and that the case may be linked to a reported stabbing near an asylum seekers' reception centre the same day.

KL: Real estate perks up...

Business daily Kauppalehti foresees a real estate boom in Finland this year. KL quotes various industry insiders as saying that a record-breaking year is underway in Finland and particularly the capital region. Foreign investments in real estate are set to rise to 3-4 billion euros this year. Altogether last year’s real estate transaction volume surpassed five billion, but by the end of July this year’s figure had already 4.2 billion. This year’s sales are poised to reach seven billion, blowing away the previous record years of 2006-07 when volumes were at or close to six billion.

Recent major deals include the buy-up of the Ideapark Oulu shopping mall by two investment firms, and German firm Patrizia’s announcement on Tuesday that it is buying office space in western Helsinki’s Ruoholahti neighbourhood and intends to keep acquiring commercial and residential properties in Finland. Capital is being shifted into the real estate market, driven by low interest rates and steady profits, the paper notes.

...Tourism too

KL also has good news from the Finnish tourism sector, where a rising number of Chinese visitors are filling the gap left by the Russians, who have largely quit coming to Finland. For the winter season the tourist board is wooing young urban Japanese women with videos of the Northern Lights and offers to buy Finnish maternity care boxes.

Last year Japanese travellers made twice as many overnight stays in Finland than in the other Nordic countries, spending more than 80 million euros here. Their favourite destinations? Helsinki, Inari and Levi.

Restaurants and hotels have been reporting good numbers since early spring, says the industry body MaRa, with turnover up by 10 percent or more compared to a year earlier. Summer sales figures won’t be out until the autumn though.

IL: 1st Olympic medal in sight

Besides a gruesome tale of a man's body being found after apparently lying dead in his flat all summer in Säyneinen, North Savo, KL’s sister publication Iltalehti devotes much of its pages to Olympic coverage. That includes Sanni Utriainen's stunning drop to last place in the women's javelin throw qualification. Her throw of 53.42 metres fell nearly 10 metres short of her own record from last year.

However hope for a Finnish medal burns bright on Wednesday as Mira Potkonen meets China's Junhua Yin in a semi-final of the women's light 60 kg boxing tournament. Potkonen is assured at least a bronze medal. Yle TV2 will broadcast the match beginning at 8.55 pm. Potkonen, a 35-year-old mother from the town of Nokia, is one of nine Finnish athletes competing in Rio on Wednesday, notes IL.

Others include Nooralotta Neziri in the women's 100m hurdles and Petra Olli in the women's freestyle 58 kilo wrestling. Beginning their Olympic competitions are three Finnish male javelinists, a hammer thrower and two women golfers.

_This story originally referred to a Nigerian man conducting the scam. Actually he was Congolese, and the story has been edited to reflect this. _

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