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NBI probes suspected embezzlement by former Business Finland employee

News outlets have reported that Business Finland suspects its former employee of embezzling nearly five million dollars while working at a US-based office.

File photo of Business Finland's headquarters.
File photo of Business Finland's headquarters. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle
Yle News

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has launched a preliminary investigation into the suspected misuse of public funds related to the operations of the state-owned FinPro, which has since become part of the business promotion agency Business Finland.

The probe is related to previously reported suspicions that a former member of the agency's US-based staff used "doctored bank statements" to mislead the agency and embezzle millions of dollars.

The NBI will seek to establish whether there are sufficient grounds to suspect a crime has been committed, and if Finnish authorities can handle the case.

Finnish newspapers Ilta-Sanomat and Helsingin Sanomat have reported in recent days that a female former employee of FinPro is believed to have embezzled about 4.8 million dollars, or around 4.4 million euros, of Finnish public funds while working at an agency office in the US.

The suspected offences allegedly took place between 2011 and 2017.

In 2018, Finpro merged with Tekes to form Business Finland. The publicly-funded agency operates under the responsibility of the Ministry of Economics Affairs and Employment with the stated aim of attracting trade, tourism and foreign investment to Finland.

In a press statement released on Tuesday, Business Finland revealed that it filed a civil lawsuit in a US court against the former employee in 2018, but the case has since been sent to a bankruptcy court after the employee filed for personal bankruptcy in May of this year.

Business Finland noted that it is waiting to hear from the bankruptcy court about the progress of the proceedings, which has delayed the start of the trial.

An NBI spokesperson declined to comment to Yle on whether the funds thought to have been embezzled by the suspect in the case were Finnish taxpayers' money.

"At this stage, the NBI is not providing further information on the case," the spokesperson replied in an email.

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