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Stockpile boss resigns after failed mask procurements

Tomi Lounema quit his job on Friday.

Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen (right) and chair of the board of the National Emergency Supply Agency Ilona Lindström at a press conference on Good Friday. Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

The Managing Director of Finland’s National Emergency Supply Agency, Tomi Lounema, resigned on Friday after he admitted spending ten million euros on protective equipment that either was not up to scratch for hospital use, or not delivered by the reality TV star with whom he had agreed the contract.

Earlier on Friday Prime Minister Sanna Marin had said she had no confidence in Lounema's management of the agency.

Minister of Employment Tuula Haatainen announced the resignation at a press conference, stating that the agency’s credibility had been damaged and Lounema’s interim replacement would be his deputy, Janne Känkänen.

Lounema had been heavily criticised this week when first it emerged that a consignment of masks failed tests and were therefore not sent to hospitals.

Suomen Kuvalehti then reported (siirryt toiseen palveluun) that Lounema had bought those masks from Onni Sarmaste, a payday lender, and that he was in dispute with reality TV star Tiina Jylhä over the payments.

Haatainen said that she had not heard of the deals until she read about them in the media.

Lounema subsequently admitted that he had agreed contracts with both Sarmaste and Jylhä, each worth five million euros, but the initial payment to Jylhä’s company had been frozen by her bank.

Känkänen said that the emergency supply agency has made preliminary orders from two private firms for 300,000 face masks and 60,000 respirators. He added that it was impossible to say whether the production of personal protective equipment in Finland could be guaranteed due to a shortfall of required machinery and materials.