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Talvivaara bosses’ conviction upheld on appeal

Finland's biggest environmental criminal case ends with convictions for the former CEO and mine manager.

Pekka Perä oikeussalissa
Former Managing Director of Talvivaara Pekka Perä. Image: Niko Mannonen / Yle

Finland’s Supreme Court (KKO) has upheld the decision made by the Rovaniemi Court of Appeal in the Talvivaara environmental damage case.

The mining company’s former CEO, Pekka Perä, was convicted of gross environmental degradation while former mine manager Lassi Lammassaari was convicted of environmental degradation. The case related to a series of major leaks from wastewater ponds holding effluent from the company's mining operations between 2006 and 2013.

Last year, the Rovaniemi Court of Appeal imposed a six-month suspended prison sentence on Perä, and a 60-day fine on Lammassaari. Both men had denied the charges and appealed the verdicts.

Another former CEO of the company, Harri Natunen, also received 100 day-fines for environmental degradation in 2018 but was denied leave to appeal.

Fines in Finland are based on income, with each 'day-fine' amounting to a certain percentage of a person's income. A person with no dependent children, earning 3,000 euros a month, would pay 45 euros for each day-fine.

"100 times higher"

The case concerned the environmentally harmful levels of sodium, sulphate and manganese in waste water that was released into the environment between 2006 and 2013. The emissions of these environmentally harmful substances had been up to 100 times higher than claimed in the company's environmental permit application.

The court therefore decided that both Perä and Lammassaari were responsible for the releasing of effluent into the environment in breach of the permit conditions required by law.

Talvivaara underwent debt restructuring in 2017 and rebranded itself as Ahtium, but subsequently filed for bankruptcy in June 2018.

The mine is now run by metals company Terrafame, which just last month announced record-high turnover and profits during the third quarter of this year. Terrafame is majority-owned by the Finnish state since it was set up four years ago to take over the Talvivaara mining operation.

Terrafame was also at the centre of a press freedom scandal in December 2016 when then Prime Minister Juha Sipilä sent a number of emails to Yle journalists complaining about the broadcaster's reporting on his reported on his relatives' links to the state-supported company.

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