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Police suspect official, not Kulmuni in consultant payment probe

The former Finance Minister and former Centre Party chair is not suspected of having committed any crime.

Katri Kulmuni
Former Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni. Image: Mikko Ahmajärvi / Yle

Police suspect an official of fraud and breach of official duty in a fraud case that saw Centre Party leader Katri Kulmuni resign as Finance Minister.

On Wednesday they announced they had wrapped up a preliminary investigation into the procurement of training services for former Minister of Finance and former Centre Party chair Kulmuni from private consulting company Tekir.

"The preliminary investigation has now been completed. It looks like it will go to the prosecutors' office next week," Detective Inspector Marke Silén, who led the investigation, told Yle.

Kulmuni resigned from her position as Minister of Finance in June last year following questions over payments to the firm totalling about 50,000 euros. She was later replaced as Centre Party leader by Annika Saarikko after a party congress vote in Oulu in September.

Police said the former minister was not interviewed as part of the investigation, as she was not suspected of having committed any crimes.

There is one suspect in the case -- an unnamed official who police believe committed a crime of fraud as well as a breach of duty.

"The police will not comment on the suspect in any way," Silén replied when asked by Yle if Kari Jääskeläinen, Kulmuni's former adviser and organiser of the Tekir sessions, was the suspect.

In June this year the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment completed an internal audit of the circumstances surrounding Kulmuni's performance training, and recommended further investigation into Jääskeläinen and Tekir due to invoicing ambiguities.

Yle spoke to Jääskeläinen on Wednesday morning, and asked if he was a suspect in the case.

"I don't know anything about it," Jääskeläinen replied.

Yle also asked if he had been interviewed as part of the investigation.

"Listen, I don't know anything about this. Let's come back to this another time," he replied.

Two ministries paid training bill

Kulmuni's training with Tekir cost the employment and economic affairs ministry 29,884 euros, while the finance ministry separately paid out 26,329 euros.

Police suspect the ministries were fraudulently persuaded to pay for the sessions and have heard from representatives of both ministries as part of the investigation.

The Ministry of Finance is also demanding damages from the suspect in the case.

"I will not comment on the amount at this stage," Silén said.

Police also confirmed that Kulmuni was not interviewed as part of the preliminary investigation. The former minister has previously stated that she had no knowledge of how much the training cost.

"At this stage, it is unclear whether she [Kulmuni] might be involved in the process at a later stage," Silén said. "If a person can possibly wait until some other part of the process, they can then be consulted, if necessary. My interpretation has been that hearing from her has not been absolutely necessary."

In July, Kulmuni stated that she repaid the money to both ministries.

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