Former CEO of Patria armaments manufacturer remanded on corruption charges
Bribery investigation in Slovenia deal expected in spring
Helsinki District Court ruled on Thursday that Jorma Wiitakorpi, former CEO of the state-owned armaments manufacturer the Patria Group, should be remanded in custody on suspicion of corporate espionage and aggravated bribery.
The National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Wiitakorpi on Monday, and on Thursday it petitioned the court for a remand order.
Also remanded on Thursday on suspicion of corruption was Veijo Varis , a member of the management team of Patria.
Patria spokeswoman Satu Palm confirmed to the Finnish News Agency STT on Thursday evening that the police had searched the company’s offices this week.
Kaj-Erik Björkvist, the head of the police investigation, would not comment on the developments. He would only say that the investigation was progressing well. Working on the case is a joint task force of the Finnish and Slovenian police.
The case will be passed on to prosecutors for consideration in the spring. State Prosecutor Jukka Rappe has been named the prosecutor in the case.
The investigation focuses on allegations of bribery in the sale of armoured vehicles manufactured by Patria to the Slovenian armed forces.
During the investigation, the police have arrested a number of people, and gone abroad to interrogate one Austrian and two Slovenian suspects.
Wiitakorpi has consistently denied any wrongdoing, and no indication of illegal action was found in Patria’s own internal investigation.
However, Wiitakorpi had to leave Patria in August. Taking his place was Heikki Allonen. Wiitakorpi is still employed with Patria as an advisor.
The affair raised a major furore in Slovenia, after MOT, an investigative television programme on Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE), claimed that the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa was one of the recipients of bribes.
Jansa’s right-wing party lost the September Parliamentary elections, and the new Prime Minister is Borut Pahor of the Social Democratic Party.
The NBI is currently investigating another case of suspected bribery linked with the sales of artillery to Egypt. One person was remanded in this connection in the summer.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Slovenian PM calls for investigation into YLE programme on Patria deal (8.10.2008)
NEWS ANALYSIS: Patria scandal had little effect on Slovenia election (23.9.2008)
Slovenia police reject accusations of Patria information leak (10.9.2008)
Slovenian government intends to sue YLE management over Patria bribery claims (4.9.2008)
Finland́s central criminal police to investigate Patria deals in Slovenia and Egypt (15.5.2008)