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NBI launches nepotism probe against prosecutor general

In an unusual judicial arrangement, the Chancellor of Justice will be responsible for consideration of charges against a colleague, the Prosecutor General. Matti Nissinen has admitted that he made "a mistake" by purchasing training services from his brother's company.

Matti Nissinen is the second prosecutor general in Finnish history. Image: Juha Kivioja / Yle

The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) has launched a preliminary investigation into a possible conflict of interest involving Prosecutor General Matti Nissinen. He has requested a leave of absence while the probe is going on.

Nissinen is suspected of a conflict of interest regarding the purchase of training services from his brother's company.

The NBI says that the Finnish Prosecution Service paid Nissinen's brother's firm, Deep Lead, about 74,000 euros for training services in between 2007 and 2015, and that Nissinen should not have been involved in these purchasing decisions.

The central criminal police office said in early March that it was beginning to look into the matter after a report in the news magazine Suomen Kuvalehti and an investigation request filed with the National Police Board.

Nissinen admits "mistake"

In late February, Nissinen confirmed to Yle that the purchasing decisions had been at his initiative and that he now realised he had "made a mistake".

During the period in question, Nissinen served as Prosecutor General and as head of the Prosecutor's Office of Eastern Finland.

Deep Lead's website still features a lengthy testimonial (siirryt toiseen palveluun) from Nissinen praising the help provided by the company to management at the Prosecutor's Office of Eastern Finland.

The probe will be led by Senior Detective Superintendent Erkki Rossi. He declined to go into details of how many individual cases or people might be covered by the investigation.

"The intention is to proceed with as speedy a timetable as possible. We aim to bring this forward for consideration of charges in May," Rossi told Yle.

Since the suspect is the Prosecutor General, the Chancellor of Justice will be responsible for consideration of charges.

The Prosecutor General's office announced on Thursday that Nissinen has applied for an unpaid leave of absence through the end of May, and that Deputy Prosecutor General Raija Toiviainen will handle his duties while he is away.

"Justice will prevail"

"I feel really badly for the whole Prosecutor's office because of this whole investigation, that it has come to this," Nissinen said when reached by phone on Thursday.

"No-one has done anything besides me. Hopefully a shadow won't be cast over the whole office," he added. "I'm prepared to help in the investigation as much as I can. However as far as I'm concerned I have already said everything to them and in public."

Nissinen is only the second prosecutor general in Finnish history, having taken over in early 2010. He tells Yle that he will calmly await the progress of the investigation.

"This is out of my hands. I don't have any skeletons in my closet. I expect that justice will prevail," he said.