Antti Rinne, head of the largest opposition party the SDP has called on Prime Minister Juha Sipilä to publicly clarify his role in relation to the award of a lucrative order to an engineering company owned by his relatives.
Earlier this week Finnish media reported that an engineering firm owned by Sipilä’s uncles and cousins – Katera Steel – had received a half-a-million-euro order from the state-owned Terrafame mining company, formerly known as Talvivaara.
"This should not be swept under the rug in any way. The Prime Minister must now come forward," Rinne told Yle at the Helsinki-Vantaa airport on Saturday.
"In my view this should be objectively reviewed by an external party. In my opinion the Chancellor of Justice or for example the parliamentary Audit Committee are the places where these matters should be dealt with," Rinne added.
The opposition leader said that there are so many ambiguities relating to the matter that Sipilä should publicly clarify it.
"In my view there are elements that point to [the need for] disqualification," Rinne pointed out.
Rinne said that he hoped that the PM had considered the need for recusing himself during his actions in economic policy ministerial committees and in the cabinet.
Rinne: Attacking the media won't help Sipilä
Earlier on Saturday Economic Affairs Minister Olli Rehn told Yle that when decisions were made concerning Terrafame, Sipilä was not aware that Katera Steel was about to receive a valuable order from the mine.
However Rinne rejected Rehn’s comments, saying that the responsibility for evaluating the need for disqualification always lies with the individual.
Writing in his blog on Friday, Sipilä accused Yle of peddling innuendo for reporting on the case. "I won’t accept that children and relatives are dragged through the mud because of my position," he wrote.
According to Rinne, condemning the media won’t help the premier get through the situation.
"This is simply a question of whether or not the Prime Minister has acted in the manner that he should in those tasks and assessed the need to recuse himself and [whether he] came to the same conclusions as others [would] in the same situation," Rinne pointed out.
National Coalition Party chief also calling for PM to come clean
Appeals for the prime minister to clear the air on the situation also came from within his cabinet, as National Coalition chair and Finance Minister Petteri Orpo weighed in by calling for the Chancellor of Justice to sort out the matter.
"In relation to this issue I have no information that would point to whether this is wrong or right. However in light of the public discussion it is good to settle the disqualification question," Orpo told regional news provider Lännen Media.
However the minister said that since Sipilä had previously given up his former business interests, the PM was free to engage in political activity without having to recuse himself.
"Juha Sipilä has himself said that as a result of these arrangements he has no need for disqualification, but we will see when there is more detailed information," Orpo added.
Reached by Yle on Saturday, Prime Minister Sipilä declined further comment on the matter.