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NGO: 20% of Finnish aid money spent on dubious investments

A major slice of Finland's development aid money has been invested in questionable ways, according to a new report from the corporate responsibility watchdog NGO Finnwatch. The group claims that some 20 percent of Finland's development fund investments were dubious, after taking Finland's official international development policy into consideration.

Nepalilaispoika juo kaivosta.
A boy drinks water from a Finnish-funded well in western Nepal. Image: Ensio Karjalainen / Yle

According to a report issued by Finnwatch on Wednesday, Finnish development aid money has been invested in companies which cater to rich clients in developing or western countries. Some Finnish funds earmarked for aid to developing countries were instead invested in the petroleum industry, meat production and private schools, according to the group.

Finnwatch claims that nearly one-fifth of Finland's development aid investments were dubious in nature, after taking into consideration the country's policies on the matter.

In a press release issued Wednesday, Finnwatch executive director Sonja Vartiala said that Finnish development aid funds have gone towards investment in firms that import jewellery and perfumes from western countries, construction of luxury homes, interior decoration projects and gym services, among others.

Report: Poorest countries only receive 16% of Finnish investments

The Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the development finance firm Finnfund's official stance - according to the NGO watchdog - is that development aid money should be funnelled to the most needy and fragile countries of the world.

"This doesn't appear to be the case, if you look at the list of investments [being made] which Finnwatch has compiled," Vartiala said.

Some 36 percent of Finnfund's investment funds are going to relatively rich countries, according to the Finnwatch report.

At the same time, the group claims, the poorest or least developed nations receive only 16 percent of major investments from Finland.

For the first time, Finnwatch revealed that some 256 companies around the world have received money from Finnish development aid funds. Previously the organisation kept that figure under wraps, citing business and banking privacy concerns.

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