Waste processing company managers get prison sentences for environment crimes
Lokapojat cut costs by dumping sewage and toxic waste into ditches, forests, and storm drains
The owners of the waste processing company Lokapojat, Tarmo Tapani Kunnasranta, 49, and Pentti Johannes Tiikkaja, 44, were sentenced by Vantaa District Court to four years in prison on Wednesday for aggravated environmental destruction and two counts of aggravated fraud.
In addition, the two were banned from engaging in business for five years. Kunnasranta was also convicted of possession of an illegal weapon. Lesser sentences were handed down to 16 other employees.
It is estimated that Lokapojat dumped tens of thousands of tons of sewage and hazardous waste into the environment over period of nearly a decade.
Tiikkaja, Kunnasranta, and their company were also ordered to forfeit EUR 920,000 in ill-gotten gains. In addition the court ordered about EUR 1,330,000 of the property of the men and their company to be kept in security confiscation until the payment of the compensation. Both were also ordered to pay tens of thousands of euros in court costs.
A woman, who worked as the auditor of the company was given a suspended sentence of a year and a half for complicity in environmental destruction, and in two counts of aggravated fraud. She is the former wife of one of the owners.
The three were also ordered to pay compensation of EUR 246,700 to the environmental management company Lassila & Tikanoja and EUR 28,800 to the City of Helsinki, in addition to court costs.
One company employee was given a nine-month suspended sentence for complicity in aggravated environmental destruction.
Another employee was given a six-month suspended sentence for environmental destruction, and 13 others were fined for complicity in environmental destruction.
Two defendants were acquitted.
Lokapojat was found to have systematically dumped massive amounts of waste oil, restaurant grease, and sewage into the environment in different parts of the Helsinki region from 1999 to 2008, thereby averting the cost of proper disposal in legal waste processing facilities.
Dumping locations included forests, ditches, as well as storm drains. In addition to averting the expenses of legal disposal, they were found to have overcharged their customers.
An indication of the systematic nature of the activity is that the company would show new drivers the location of illegal dumping areas. Those who voiced any qualms about the legality of the activities might find themselves out of work.
In November 2008 police arrested 11 company employees after investigating the activities of Lokapojat for several months.
Nearly 30 people were considered suspects, and 20 were charged in the case.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Waste management company executives face prison terms for fraud and environmental violations (14.2.2012)