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Finland's Justice Ministry to probe how courts deal with corruption

Although Finland is regularly ranked among the least corrupt countries in the world, Finnish Minister of Justice Jari Lindström has called for an investigation into how the courts handle and identify bribery cases. Despite Finland's good reputation, a report issued last year by the OECD noted problems in investigations and legal proceedings of corruption cases in Finland.

Jari Lindström
Finnish Minister of Justice Jari Lindström. Image: Heikki Saukkomaa / Lehtikuva

Finnish Minister of Justice Jari Lindström says his ministry is investigating how well the Finnish court system deals with bribery cases. More than a year ago the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) voiced "serious concern" about the country's enforcement of bribery laws.

Lindström says that corruption on the local level is particularly challenging, saying that such crimes go unnoticed or aren't properly identified.

He says that some higher-risk areas in which corruption take place include the construction industry, in public procurement issues, as well as in policy making and the financing of those policies.

As reforms of the social and health care sector continue to be considered by the government, Lindström says that it's vital to strengthen efforts to identify corruption risks as those reforms are implemented.

"Serious concern with Finland's continued failure"

In February 2016, the OECD issued a statement about what it called "Finland's limited implementation" of its anti-bribery convention.

"The OECD Working Group on Bribery expresses its serious concern with Finland’s continued failure to implement the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention," the statement read. "In addition, the Working Group is troubled by the difficulties that Finland has encountered in effectively enforcing its laws against the bribery of foreign public officials."

The OECD said that a relatively large proportion of corruption charges against foreign officials were rejected by the Finnish court system. The organisation recommended that Finland speed up its anti-corruption efforts.

"If you do not recognise corruption, it makes it difficult to file a complaint about it," Lindström said.

On a list published in 2016 by corruption watchdog NGO Transparency International, Finland was listed as the third least-corrupt nation in the world, just behind Denmark and New Zealand.

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