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Mint employee suspected of stealing tens of thousands of coins
Police suspect that the production chief of the Mint of Finland has stolen tens of thousands of euros in coins.
The thefts are believed to have started in the spring of 2009 and continued through early this month when the suspect was detained.
The 37-year-old suspect has worked at the mint for several years, and police say that he has no previous criminal record.
The investigation is in its early stages, and there was no immediate indication of how he managed to get the coins out of the production facility in Vantaa.
“There have been shortcomings in the security system”, says the head of the investigation, Jukka Larkio of the Helsinki Police Department.
Paul Gustafsson, CEO of the Mint of Finland, a state-owned company, says that the operations are carefully monitored, and that employees leaving the building are also searched.
Employees are also subject to pre-employment background checks.
“We are also investigating how the security measures have failed”, Gustafsson adds.
He said that nothing like this has ever happened before
“This is an isolated case that needs to be taken seriously”, he notes.
The police got wind of the theft through its own investigations this autumn, when large quantities of coins started showing up in suspicious places.
Police learned that large numbers of coins were being exchanged for banknotes. In addition, coins were found in large numbers in searches linked with drug crime investigations.
Police suspect that the production chief committed aggravated theft. Larkio would not say on Friday if the suspect had admitted to the crime.
Police also suspect several men and women of hiding the coins.
“Most of the suspects have known each other before. Among the suspects, in addition to the Finns, are citizens of other countries”, Larkio says.
Some of those suspected of hiding the coins have confessed under interrogation. Police believe that they were given small commission for the stolen coins.
In addition to the main suspect, one other suspect has been remanded, and several are under arrest.
Only the main suspect is an employee of the Mint of Finland.
Part of the investigation involves suspicion of the distribution and use of cocaine.
Larkio says that it is not yet know if the stolen coins were used in acquiring the cocaine.
The history of the Mint of Finland goes back to 1860, when the Russian Tsar authorised Finland to produce its own currency. The first silver markka coins were minted in 1864.
The Mint of Finland produces Finland’s euro coins, as well as euros used in Greece, Luxembourg, Slovenia, Cyprus and Ireland. It has 133 employees, and its annual turnover is about EUR 100 million. The head offices are in Vantaa.