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HS: Movement Now owes 830,000 euros to party founder's company

The party has been characterised as the personal project of its founder, businessman Hjallis Harkimo.

Hjallis Harkimo's (in middle) political party is in 830,000 euros of debt to his company, Hjallis Promotion. Image: Aleksi Tuomola / Lehtikuva

The amount of debt carried by the Movement Now political party amounts to nearly 830,000 euros, the vast majority of which consist of loans from party leader Harry "Hjallis" Harkimo's company, Hjallis Promotion, according to newspaper Helsingin Sanomat (siirryt toiseen palveluun).

Harkimo, who is also the party's founder, acknowledged that the party would not otherwise have been offered similar loans from banks or other lenders, adding that he may never see the loans reimbursed, according to HS.

However, Harkimo remained optimistic about his party's future, stating that he needed 10 MPs elected next year to get the financial situation sorted. At the moment, the polls do not appear to show Movement Now gaining significant traction.

HS' probe found the party's loan arrangement to be unusual, as most political parties borrow from traditional financial institutions to fund election campaigns.

Party secretary of Movement Now Juhani Klemetti told HS that all the loans have been taken with Hjallis Promotion in order to cover the party's operating expenses.

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According to the government's own figures (siirryt toiseen palveluun), the party's income consists almost entirely of the support that Harkimo's lone seat in parliament brings in. That support amounted to roughly 180,000 euros this year.

Movement Now has been considered Harkimo's "personal project", according to the paper, with the businessman serving as the party's sole MP.

The paper spoke with ethics expert Professor Ari Salminen, who said he wondered whether anyone other than Harkimo can actually make decisions within the party, since he is so financially intertwined into Movement Now.

"From an ethical standpoint, these types of connections should be made public so that voters know about them," Salminen explained to HS.

Harkimo, a former competitive sailor and businessman who, among other things, moved Jokerit to Russia's Kontinental Hockey League and hosted the Finnish version of The Apprentice, began his foray into politics in 2015 with the National Coalition Party (NCP), serving as MP. Harkimo split from the NCP to form his own offshoot party, Movement Now in 2018.

According to HS much of the equity in Hjallis Promotion consists of funds from the sale of Jokerit and the former Hartwall Arena to oligarchs currently on EU and US sanctions lists.