PM Sipilä criticises Finnair pension bonuses

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä has slammed Finnair's decision to make extra payments to boost the pension due to CEO Pekka Vauramo. Sipilä said the payments were against the government's state ownership steering policy. The Finnish state holds a majority 55 percent stake in Finnair.

Juha Sipilä Image: Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä says that Finnair should not have given extra pension payments totalling 130,000 euros to CEO Pekka Vauramo in 2016, as the move violated government guidelines for state-owned companies.

"As the responsible minister, I was not informed by the state ownership steering unit before the company's board made the decision," Sipilä told STT.

In an unusual move for the head of government, Sipilä took on the state ownership steering portfolio when he entered office in 2015.

"Additional pension payments are against the state's policy lines, which the company's board were aware of when they made the decision," said Sipilä. "This would have been made clear if, as the responsible minister, I had been made aware of this and my opinion had been asked. Legally speaking, the decision is the company's board's to make, but it clearly goes against the owner's opinions."

Sipilä handed over responsibility for state ownership steering to Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintilä in April. Lintilä on Monday described Finnair's defence of the additional pension as 'contradictory' and said he would seek a meeting with Finnair management and Eero Heliövaara, who heads up the state ownership steering unit in the government.

Vauramo's pension arrangements were first reported by Suomen Kuvalehti earlier this year, before hitting the headlines again last week after Helsingin Sanomat published a broad look at CEO compensation among listed companies in Finland.

Finnair recently posted record profits in the second quarter of this year.