Police question Slot Machine Association management
YLE reports Managing Director Mönkäre suspected of wrongdoing
The Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) reports that Sinikka Mönkäre (SDP), the Managing Director of the state-run Finnish Slot Machine Association (RAY) and seven other administrators of the body could face charges stemming from the investigation into the misuse of money from RAY.
RAY, which has a monopoly on slot machines and casino gaming in Finland, distributes profits from the enterprise to various organisations involved in causes such as public health, sports, and culture. Now leading figures in the association are suspected of having allowed EUR 80,000 of the proceeds to go into political activities.
Before her appointment to RAY in 2006, Mönkäre served as the Minister of Social Affairs and Health.
Helsingin Sanomat could not reach Mönkäre for comment on Monday evening.
State Prosecutor Jarmo Hirvonen told Helsingin Sanomat that police suspect eight people of malfeasance. Police suspect that the allegedly misappropriated RAY funds have benefitted mainly the National Coalition Party, the Social Democratic Party, and the Centre Party, but that smaller Parliamentary parties have also been at the receiving end.
“Money has been paid out mainly to organisations with close ties to the parties, such as seminar organisers and newspaper publishers. Examples would include RAY advertisements in party publications.”
Hirvonen points out that the law strictly regulates the use of RAY finding. He says that in this case police investigated whether or not these regulations were circumvented in order to fund activities in an improper way.
The investigation covers the years 2000-2009, and the consideration of whether or not to press charges is expected to be complete by the end of the year.
One of the suspects, RAY’s Director of Communications Matti Hokkanen, denied any wrongdoing. “There is no crime here. It is not my understanding that party newspapers would be criminal organisations”, he says.
“We have taken part in seminars and published everything. There is nothing suspect or criminal there. Public relations are part of RAY’s job description.”
Prosecutor Hirvonen says that one of the aspects of the investigation will be consideration of what constitutes normal public relations and what is not.
In its main TV news broadcast on Monday YLE reported erroneously that the chairman of the board of RAY, Hannes Manninen (Centre Party), would be among the suspects.
“I have not been questioned as a suspect for anything. The news is completely incorrect on my part”, Manninen says.
Manninen has been interviewed by police, primarily to provide information on RAY’s view on the matter. He would not say what he said during questioning, because the police have declared the matter confidential.
Last week the previous chairman of RAY’s board, Jukka Vihriälä, who resigned over the election funding controversy, was charged with crimes of bribery and malfeasance.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Election contributions bring bribery charges against Vihriälä and Kaikkonen (30.9.2011)
Finland’s Slot Machine Association (RAY)