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Two more detained over deal to sell face masks to stockpile agency

The Helsinki Police professional crime department is looking into the murky deal.

Kuvassa on hengityssuojainta käyttävä mies.
The National Emergency Supply Agency (Nesa) spent millions of euros on face masks that turned out to be sub-standard. Image: Emmi Korhonen / Lehtikuva

Police said on Thursday that they had detained two people in southern Finland on suspicion of aggravated extortion. Authorities say the detentions are related to the furore over large orders for personal protective equipment ordered by the national stockpile body. The National Emergency Supply Agency (Nesa) spent millions of euros on face masks that turned out to be sub-standard.

The probe is being led by the professional crime department at the Helsinki Police criminal investigation unit.

"We announced earlier this month that we are investigating criminal damage that has come to light in connection with the Nesa protective equipment order,” Senior Detective Superintendent Markku Heinikari of the Helsinki Police's professional crime department said in a statement.

On 14 April police reported that a stone had been thrown in through the window of a Helsinki residence on 6 April, breaking the window, and that the case was being probed as suspected property damage and trespass.

"In investigating this suspected criminal damage, police became aware of factors based on which there is reason to suspect the individuals who have now been detained of aggravated extortion,” he added.

Police declined to provide any further information at this stage about those in custody or about the suspected extortion.

A week earlier, two men were taken into custody in connection with the same dodgy deal to provide the stockpile agency with protective gear. Yle learned that one of them was businessman Onni Sarmaste, who was paid nearly five million euros for a delivery of face masks from China that turned out to be totally inadequate for hospital use.

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