Prime Minister Juha Sipilä was at the centre of a conflict of interest row on Friday after it emerged that a firm owned by his children and relatives received a large order from the state-run firm Terrafame soon after he’d granted additional taxpayer funds for Terrafame.
The Kainuu steel products company, Katera, was founded by Sipilä’s grandfather and employed Sipilä himself when he was 15. Three years ago Sipilä turned over his investments to a firm run by his children, Fortel Investments, which holds a five percent stake in Katera. The rest of the firm is owned by other relatives of the Prime Minister.
The Left Alliance newspaper Kansan Uutiset reported yesterday that Katera had received an order from Terrafame for ore transportation services.
That revelation came two weeks after Sipilä’s government had approved 100 million euros of additional funding for the mine, which had originally been slated for closure in the government’s programme. That was still the policy in the summer, when the government re-affirmed that Terrafame would have to find additional private funding by the turn of the year or face closure.
According to Kansan Uutiset, Sipilä told the newspaper that in recent years he has not been involved with Katera and has no information on Katera’s business, ownership, or customers.
A message was sent from the Prime Minister’s office on Friday afternoon saying that Sipilä would not comment on the issue to Yle.
Correction: 19:22 – The Kainuu steel products company, Katera, was not founded by Sipilä’s grandfather. Its predecessor Hitsaus- and levytakomo Ky, was founded in 1961 by Sipilä’s grandfather, Esa Jauhiainen.