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Court renews custody order for 2 suspects in Turku real estate case

The two men, a Russian and an Estonian, are suspected of tax evasion crimes and asked to be released before their trial, but police objected to their release.

Epäilty virolainen mies ja hänen asianajaja Jukka Pasanen (oik.) Vantaan käräjäoikeudessa 25. syyskuuta
The Estonian suspect (hiding behind sheet of paper) and his lawyer at Southwest Finland District Court on Wednesday. Image: Antti Aimo-Koivisto / Lehtikuva

The suspects in a suspected international money laundering scheme associated with the Turku real estate firm Airiston Helmi earlier this week requested that Southwest Finland District Court revoke their pre-trial detention and release them pending their trial.

But in hearings that took place on Tuesday and Wednesday the court ordered the suspects continue to be held in custody.

The suspects being held include a 51-year old Estonian man and a 36-year-old Russian man - both of whom are suspected of serious tax evasion crimes.

Police have said the men are linked to the Turku-based real estate firm Airiston Helmi, a company at the centre of a major money laundering investigation in Finland. The firm was reportedly founded by a Russian billionaire, who is not in custody nor officially announced as a suspect.

The expansive investigation has been making headlines since the end of September when hundreds of police, border guard, military and other officials raided 17 properties on islands in the Finnish archipelago owned by the real estate firm.

The raids uncovered bags of currency worth millions of euros as well as computer devices with hundreds of terabytes of data that investigators reportedly are continuing to sift through.

Earlier this month, Yle News reported that some international experts think the Airiston Helmi probe uncovered an operation with financial - and possibly military - goals in mind.

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