Finnish NBI helps Italian authorities in money laundering investigation
EUR 1 billion believed to have passed through Finland
Police in Italy suspect that more than a billion euros of a two-billion euro money laundering scheme were funnelled through two companies that were set up in Finland.
Helsingin Sanomat reported on Thursday that two telecommunications companies registered in Finland are suspected of involvement in a money laundering operation of the infamous Calabria Mafia, or 'Ndrangheta.
Italy has issued arrest warrants for the British owners of the two shell companies.
According to Italian police, about EUR 600 million passed through one of the companies, and about EUR 500 million passed through the other.
Also used were Viennese bank accounts.
In light of information gathered from the Italian police, it would appear that the companies existed exclusively for the laundering of money, and that there were no real business activities at all.
Confirming this conclusion is that Helsingin Sanomat has learned that the business contracts drawn up by the companies were exceptionally vague in light of the amounts of money involved in the transactions.
Also noteworthy is that the combined turnover of the companies grew rapidly from minimal levels to a billion, and then suddenly shrunk again.
The companies’ former auditor says that the firms had no employees or business activities in Finland, and Helsingin Sanomat has not managed to find any Finnish “representatives” of the companies.
The Finnish National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) says that the Italian police had requested information concerning the Finnish companies in October 2007. The NBI supplied the Italians with information in November of the same year, and gave additional information in January 2008.
Since then, the Italian authorities have not been in contact with the NBI over the matter, or informed the Finns on how the investigation has progressed.
The NBI believes that it is possible that the companies were set up in Finland without any real connection with this country.
“Perhaps the aim has just been to disperse the activities to make it a little bit more difficult to follow the cash flow”, says Markku Ranta-aho, head of the NBI’s anti money-laundering unit.
“Compared with other European countries, Finland is not the kind of country that could be used very easily for money laundering.”
Previously in HS International Edition:
Finnish-registered companies allegedly used for money laundering (25.2.2010)