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Russian suspect freed in Airiston Helmi money laundering probe

The National Bureau of Investigation said that there is no longer any need to detain the suspect since an ongoing investigation will take a long time.

The suspect in court with his lawyer in October 2018. Image: Rain Kooli / Yle

Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation has released a Russian man held in connection with a money laundering probe sparked by a high-profile raid on a property in the Turku archipelago last year.

The NBI said that there was no longer any need to keep the man in remand custody, given that the preliminary investigation is expected to take a long time.

Although the man was released from custody on Tuesday, he is still a suspect in the investigation. Police had also detained an Estonian national in connection with the case on suspicion of aiding and abetting aggravated fraud and aggravated money laundering. He was released in December although police said at the time that they still consider him a suspect in the case.

The investigation turns on a real estate firm, Airiston Helmi, helmed by a mysterious Russian businessman who reportedly runs several other firms in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The man is said to be the holder of a Maltese passport but claims residency in Hungary.

Police sifting through terabytes of data

Police said that the raid in the archipelagic municipality of Pargas in southwest Finland last September uncovered approximately three million euros in cash as well as 210 terabytes of data stored on devices seized during the operation.

Officials said in a release on Tuesday that they had enlisted the assistance of the Security Intelligence Police Supo and the Defence Forces as well as the Tax Administration to review the data seized.

The firm at the centre of the investigation is believed to have laundered millions of euros and the company is suspected of having used off-the-books labour to construct the property in the archipelago.

Police also suspect that the firm spent 2.8 million euros on paying its illegal workforce. Police are investing a number of suspected offences including aggravated money laundering, aggravated tax fraud and aggravated pension insurance fraud.