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Court: Former Talvivaara boss illegally sought €1.3m in tax breaks

The Supreme Administrative Court ordered that businessman Pekka Perä's finances be reassessed by tax authorities.

Pekka Perä
File photo of Pekka Perä from 2013. Image: Petteri Paalasmaa / AOP

The former CEO of mining firm Talvivaara, businessman Pekka Perä, gave the Tax Administration incorrect information while seeking around 1.3 million euros in tax breaks, according to a ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court on Monday.

In its ruling, the court said that previous decisions made by tax authorities and the lower administrative court that were based on the incorrect information must be annulled.

In practice, this means that the Tax Administration will need to make new decisions on Perä's finances from those years. At the same time, the tax authority will also review a 1.3 million euro tax break previously granted to Perä.

Perä told Yle that he did not want to comment about the matter.

"I am not aware of such a decision and therefore I cannot comment on it in any way," Perä told Yle by telephone.

"Quite exceptional"

Olli Mäenpää, a former Supreme Administrative Court judge and administrative law professor at the University of Helsinki, said it was "quite exceptional" for the Supreme Administrative Court to revoke an earlier court's tax decision.

However, in an email sent to Yle, he said that in this case the court appears to have had a good reason for the ruling, because its decision was based on false information.

The Supreme Administrative Court's decision did not specifically identify Perä, and only referred to an individual named "A." However, Yle has confirmed that the ruling does specifically concern Perä.

"Providing false information for tax avoidance purposes is tax fraud. So I saw it at the general level. If the right to prosecute has not yet expired, there may be a reason [for police] to open a preliminary investigation," Criminal Law Professor Matti Tolvanen said about the matter.

Both Tolvanen and Mäenpää commented about the case on the basis of the court's decision, and did not take a position over who specifically was affected by it.

Years of legal struggles

Perä has had several legal battles in recent years including environmental and financial issues surrounding the Talvivaara Mining Company.

Most recently, Helsinki District Court dismissed charges of stock market offences against Perä and two other defendants in the summer of 2020.

Talvivaara Mining Company is the parent firm of the once-flailing Talvivaara Sotkamo Mine located in Kainuu, eastern Finland. Government stepped in to save the bankrupt mining operation in August 2015, initially injecting more than 100 million euros to buy out the venture and renaming it Terrafame.

At the time, Talvivaara Mining Company owed creditors nearly half a billion euros, while the mining outfit was nearly one billion euros in debt.

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