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Green MP gives up expenses perk after tabloid reports on dual homes

A tabloid claims MP Jani Toivola received compensation from the Finnish Parliament for a flat 70 kilometres north of Helsinki that he hasn't used in two years. Toivola responded by saying he would relinquish the perk.

Jani Toivola.
MP Jani Toivola Image: Jarno Kuusinen / AOP

Greens MP Jani Toivola responded to criticism over his alleged receipt of more than 9,000 euros in extra compensation on Tuesday by saying he would relinquish the perk and switch his city of residence from Riihimäki to Helsinki.

The announcement comes directly after tabloid daily Iltalehti continued its scrutiny of Toivola's finances on Tuesday, following yet another story on Monday about the politician's extensive taxi expenses.

The paper's latest report on Tuesday focused on alleged improprieties involving Toivola's housing expense compensation.

IL writes that Toivola has told the Finnish Parliament's administration and service unit that he lives full-time in Riihimäki, for which he is paid an enhanced monthly expense allowance.

MPs from Helsinki living within 30 kilometres of Parliament Building receive 987 euros per month for expenses, while lawmakers who reside farther outside the city receive 1,316 euros per month, an increase of 329 euros monthly.

The tabloid writes that MP Toivola has received the increased allowance since April 2016, meaning that he has received a total of over 9,000 euros extra in compensation so far.

Riihimäki home empty

Iltalehti says it tracked down some of the MP's Riihimäki neighbours, who say that Toivola has not lived in the flat for two years. The tabloid also interviewed a real estate dealer who said that the flat is empty and has been for sale on the market for a few years.

Toivola told the tabloid that he and his daughter have two homes: one in Helsinki and the other in Riihimäki.

"We have an official temporary address in Helsinki, and therefore, another home here," he said.

The tabloid checked this with the Helsinki Registry Office, which said that the Toivolas have no such Helsinki address registered, and is registered only as living in Riihimäki.

Yle was unable to reach MP Toivola for comment on Iltalehti's Tuesday story.

In July, Finns Party MP Teuvo Hakkarainen was also scrutinized for claiming a sauna space in Helsinki as his second home.

Edit: Updated at 5.02pm to reflect new reports that Toivola formally moved his address from Riihimäki to Helsinki and relinquished the enhanced expenses perk.

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