Known in Finland as Brother Christmas, Ari Koponen has been charged for violating fundraising laws as part of an organisation called Ari Koponen Events or the Brother Christmas Association. The prosecutor said that Koponen committed fundraising offences for a one-month period in 2016.
Brother Christmas became a social media phenomenon for helping sick children by telling their stories and raising funds to help them and their families. Like his namesake Father Christmas, he sports a white beard and delivers the toys and gifts in well-publicised visits to hospitals.
The prosecutor has also charged Koponen and two other members of the board of the Brother Christmas charitable organisation with fundraising offences believed to have been committed from the beginning of 2017 up to the summer of the same year.
The charges focus on a period during which Ari Koponen Events or the Brother Christmas Associasion did not have a fundraising permit. All of the suspects denied any wrongdoing during the preliminary investigation.
Koponen: "False allegations discredited"
The prosecutor previously dropped other more serious charges, including aggravated accounting offences and three other fundraising infringements.
The prosecutor’s office said that there is no evidence to suggest that the association’s funds were used for anything other than their intended purpose.
For his part, Koponen said that he was pleased with the decision to drop the other charges under consideration.
"We finally have incontrovertible evidence that not a single euro of the funds collected by the Brother Christmas Association went towards anything other than helping people in need. In addition some newspaper reports have suggested that I have even misled [people] about where the funds raised went and that I have provided inaccurate and distorted information about it. These false allegations have now been completely discredited," Koponen declared.