Niinistö organises inspection of finances of Parliament’s hobby clubs
“No good answer” on Sports Club accounts
Speaker of Parliament Sauli Niinistö (Nat. Coalition Party) organised the first inspection round on the financial records of various hobby groups and clubs in the Finnish Parliament.
The move was prompted by reports that EUR 70,000 had been embezzled by a Parliamentary civil servant from the accounts of the Parliament’s Sports Club.
Niinistö noted that there was no indication of similar events in other clubs.
On Wednesday it came out that the Sports Club had no account books or bookkeeping since 2002. Apparently over a period of about ten years, none of the Members of Parliament operating as auditors had asked for receipts. Niinistö did not seem to understand this.
“I have not received an adequate response to this”, he said.
Now all receipts and books will be examined in the Parliament’s accounts office, going all the way back to 1994, when the suspected embezzler first started as treasurer of the Sports Club. He has said that he started stealing the club’s money in 2003, but investigators have found irregularities from 2002 as well.
Speaker Niinistö says that funding for the various clubs has been frozen at the present level already before. He feels that the number of such clubs could be reduced.
Niinistö, who has been seen as a possible future chairman of the Finnish Football Association, noted that the most expensive sports activity in Parliament is the Parliament’s football team, which takes about half of the club’s budget.
He does not want to shut down the football team, but feels that it should not cost as much as it does. The Parliament’s football team regularly plays friendly matches abroad.
The Speaker noted that Parliament has experienced “too many” scandals of different kinds in recent times. He says that these scandals do not put “the most attractive of images” in people’s minds.
Niinistö himself is not a member of any of the clubs in Parliament, but he does occasionally play chess.
Niinistö said that on Wednesday, Parliament had taken “its first steps” on the road to inspections.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Embezzlement discovered at Parliament’s sports club (7.10.2009)