Finland’s former prime minister and Centre Party leader will not face criminal charges for his part in approving funding for an organisation that donated thousands to his presidential election campaign. After a three-hour debate last Tuesday, parliament decided that Matti Vanhanen did not show gross negligence when endorsing a grant for youth housing foundation Nuorisosaatio from the Finnish Slot Machine Association (RAY).
Nuorisosaatio, which has close links to the Centre Party, donated more than EUR 23,000 to Vanhanen’s 2006 presidential election campaign. The Constitutional Law Committee, however, unanimously agreed that while the former PM had been negligent by not removing himself from the decision making process, his actions did not amount to an impeachable offence.
Speaking to Helsingin Sanomat, Vanhanen said he is relieved that the matter has finally been resolved, but complained that the process had been “unreasonably long”. He also slammed Chancellor of Justice Jaakko Jonkka for taking a whole year to make up his mind about whether the decision would be passed on to Parliament following the investigation.
While Vanhanen admitted that a conflict of interest could be construed, he argued that the fundraising for his campaign was organised by his party and not him personally.