The Helsinki District Court decided on Friday to dismiss fraud charges against Merja Kasoi (formerly Aulis), a former CEO of the pensions insurance company Keva.
The prosecutor had called for the court to slap Kasoi with a heavy fine as well as a conditional prison sentence if she was found guilty.
Kasoi was paid a nearly 19,000 euros by the Norwegian state for child allowances over a 10-year period although she no longer lived in Norway. However the court ruled Friday that there was enough evidence to convince the judge that Kasoi was not guilty of criminally concealing her move from Norway.
Saved by change of address notification
Kasoi had moved to small town in Norway with her then-husband and children but returned to Finland in 2002. She said that she had lodged a change of address notification and had assumed that the information would be relayed to the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration, NAV.
Kasoi told the court that she was not aware that Norwegian officials continued to pay the child benefits into her bank account. She said she first learned of the ongoing payments from a reporter, who revealed that she had been receiving the benefit for more than 10 years.
She noted that with an annual salary of 300,000 euros, she had no interest in jeopardising her position or career over child allowances from Norway.
In the end the change of address notification swayed the court, which said that it supported Kasoi’s account that she did not intend to conceal her move and that she had not deliberately sought to continue receiving the benefit.
The court added that fraud is only punishable if it is found to be intentional.