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€400,000 found on Finnair plane should go to state, appeals court rules

The discovered cash - hidden in crisp containers - led to a legal dispute between police and a lost and found firm.

Finnairin koneita kentällä
Around 400,000 euros was found in hand luggage on a Finnair place in 2009. The aircraft in this picture are not related to the incident. Image: AOP

On Monday, the Helsinki Court of Appeal upheld a district court's decision to hand over around 400,000 euros in cash - found in a Finnair airplane cabin 10 years ago - to the Finnish state, and not to a lost and found company that also claimed it.

The unusual dispute had its origins in Madrid in October 2009, when a female Chinese national was removed by Spanish authorities from a flight bound for Helsinki after a significant sum of cash was found in her checked luggage.

When the plane arrived in Finland, 400,000 euros was found hidden inside crisp container tubes and chocolate bar wrappers in the plane's cabin, which the woman had left behind as she was taken off the plane by authorities.

The money, in denominations of 50 and 100 euro notes, was eventually handed over to Finnish police over suspicions the cash find was linked to money laundering.

Finland's National Bureau of Investigation subsequently opened a money laundering investigation, which concluded in 2013.

Woman left behind the cash

In 2014, police informed the Chinese woman that if the money was not claimed within three months, it would be awarded to the Finnish state. However, the owner of the bag made no further inquiries about the matter, according to police.

At this point, the money raised the interest of Lost and Found International Finland, a company which also operates as the airport's - as well as Finnair's - lost and found services provider.

The firm said that the money should be handed over to them, but the NBI refused to release it, saying that it belonged to the Finnish state.

The firm eventually took the case to Helsinki District Court, but in spring of last year the court ruled the money belonged to the Finnish state, and not to the company.

If Lost and Found International is not satisfied with the appeal court's decision, it may still apply for leave to appeal to Finland's Supreme Court.

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