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Helsinki bishop suspected of accounting fraud

The bishop is suspected of accounting offences related to his personal business--but was cleared of wrongdoing over expenses filed with the Lutheran church.

Teemu Laajasalo
Teemu Laajasalo Image: Jussi Nukari / Lehtikuva

Police have cleared a high-profile bishop of wrongdoing over his travel expenses, but suspect his company’s accounts contain irregularities.

The prosecutor will now examine the police report before deciding whether or not to bring charges against Teemu Laajasalo, who has also worked as a television presenter and comedian on Yle programmes.

He had been under suspicion over his actions as parish priest of Helsinki’s Kallio district, when his credit card usage was reported to church authorities. Helsinki parish authorities called in external auditors who cleared Laajasalo of misusing the card.

The clergyman also repaid the cost of some hotel stays where he had chosen to book rooms that were too expensive.

Police do suspect however, that Laajasalo’s business TL-Opetus has not followed accounting rules, especially with some of the receipts on the books. They launched their investigation after a complaint from Johanna Korhonen, a journalist and chorister active in the church.

Laajasalo apologised on Thursday via a statement from the church.

“As I have previously admitted publicly, there has been carelessness in managing the books,” Laajasalo was quoted as saying. “All the company’s obligations have been met, but late. No benefit was gained through this negligence. That doesn’t mean that I should not have been more careful.”

Laajasalo said that his company was no longer operating.

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