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Failed extortion plot against MP

Police suspect an attempt was made to use fraudulent invoicing to extort 13 million euros from a member of parliament.

Miekkalogo poliisiauton kyljessä.
Image: Petri Lassheikki / Yle

The newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reported that the extortion attempt being investigated by police targeted businessman and National Coalition Party MP Eero Lehti. Lehti has confirmed the report by the paper.

According to police, Lehti first received fraudulent invoices and demands for payment by post and email in 2015. Following that, an action for payment was filed against Lehti with the district court in Tuusula.

Police said in a release on Monday that the same MP had been involved at the start of the 2000's with the company from which fraudulent invoices originated and the individuals behind the company. The release states that a preliminary investigation found no legitimate reason for the debts being claimed.

The head of the investigation, Detective Harri Saaristola of the Helsinki Police, described it as a case of "process fraud" in which an attempt is made to mislead authorities into providing a ruling favourable to a party in a dispute. Even if claims are found to be baseless and are rejected by a court, there can be significantly detrimental consequences for the target, including expenses and negative publicity.

Saaristola added that the case in question is by no means exceptional, with similar cases coming to the attention of the police from time to time. The results of the preliminary investigation will be turned over to the prosecutor's office where a decision will be made on bringing charges in the case.

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