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Committee recommends parliament consider dismissing auditor general

Auditor General Tytti Yli-Viikari was suspended from her position in April pending an investigation into her expenses.

Tytti Yli-Viikari suureen valiokuntaan kuultavaksi.
Tytti Yli-Viikari is currently suspended from her role as Auditor General. Image: Jani Saikko / Yle

Parliament's audit committee has stated that the activities of Tytti Yli-Viikari, Auditor General of the National Audit Office VTV, have "significantly" weakened and damaged public trust in the agency.

Committee chair Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto (Green) added that Parliament's Chancellery Commission should consider dismissing Yli-Viikari as the agency's director general. If the Chancellery Commission considers there are grounds for dismissal, the matter must then be debated and decided by MPs in Parliament.

"It needs to be clarified whether the Auditor General is in a position to continue in office," Alanko-Kahiluoto said. "If the conditions for dismissal are met, the matter must be referred to Parliament. The activities of the Auditor General have significantly weakened trust and damaged the agency's public image."

Yli-Viikari was suspended from her role in April pending the outcome of a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) probe into salary payments made by the VTV to an official during the early stages of Yli-Viikari's tenure as auditor general.

This followed an expenses scandal after reports emerged that Yli-Viikari had spent about 5,000 euros of public money on hairdressing and beauty services, as well as keeping frequent flyer bonus points for personal use after they were accrued on business trips.

Alanko-Kahiluoto added that the shortcomings identified at the VTV agency were "exceptional" and were not seen anywhere else among the state's administrative agencies.

The audit committee's report into the matter noted that several requests for further clarification on the issues raised have been made to Yli-Viikari.

"The auditor general has still refused to state whether the flight points were used for official purposes," audit committee member Veijo Niemi (Finns) said at the Tuesday afternoon press conference after the publication of the committee's report.

Yli-Viikari has denied committing any crimes and appealed her suspension from duty in May.

Report: Travel expenses totalled €187,000

The audit committee's report also revealed that Yli-Viikari's travel expenses over a five-year period from 2016 to 2020 came to about 187,000 euros.

Roughly half of this amount, or 93,500 euros, was travel related to working with the European Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions (EUROSAI).

The committee added that it has also requested information on the previous Auditor General's travel expenses. In 2014, the then auditor general, and current Chancellor of Justice, Tuomas Pöysti spent almost 11,600 euros on travel. In 2015, travel expenses amounted to about 7,500 euros.

There is no precise data for years prior to this, as the retention period for travel and expense documents is six years, but the committee noted that the Yli-Viikari's travel expenses were significantly higher than those of his predecessor.

Yli-Viikari did not respond to Yle's request for a comment on Tuesday.

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