Patria case

Patria case

The Patria case is the political controversy over the yet unproven claims of bribery of Slovenian officials by the Finnish company Patria to help clinch an armoured personnel carrier order. There is currently a criminal investigation underway, and two employees of Patria have been arrested on charges of bribery.] The CEO stepped down from his position as a result of the affair and is being investigated by the police on charges of bribery. In early September 2008, just three weeks before the Slovenian parliamentary elections on 21 September 2008, the Finnish broadcasting company YLE published an investigation implicating the corruption of the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša. Janša and the Slovenian government rejected all accusations and called for the journalists to advance some proof for their claims or to withdraw the accusations.


The deal, concerning 135 Patria AMV infantry fighting vehicles, is the largest in Slovenian history.Fact|date=September 2008 Participants to the bid included Patria with Patria AMV and a Slovenian subsidiary of General Dynamics, Sistemska Tehnika with Valuk. The government chose the former.

Alleged scheme

On 1 September 2008, the YLE's investigative program MOT stated that Patria paid a 21 million euros in bribes for deals for Patria AMV IFVs for the Slovenian military. The money was said to be channelled to officials in the country's Ministry of Defence, as well as the Prime Minister Janez Janša. [ [ YLE Claims Stir Political Storm In Slovenia] , YLE] [ [ Slovenia Delivers Note to Finland Over TV Programme Accusations] ] [ [ Mot: The Truth about Patria] ] [] The program covered the ongoing criminal investigation of bribery and gross bribery by Patria officers in Egypt, Slovenia and Croatia. The accusations were said to be based on undisclosed documents which mention the initial letter "J.", interpreted to mean the premier Janez Janša. According to MOT, the documents were verified from multiple reliable sources. These documents were said to be published when the police investigation is completed and the case is presented to the district court. [] The police estimates that the investigation should be completed by the end of 2008.] Furthermore, Drago Kos, the president of the anti-corruption commission in Slovenia, described the bribery as "very hard to deny" in the MOT program and stated people from the government were implicated. Later he said he was only making logical conclusions and has no proof for his claims. [cite news |url= |title=Dokazov v zadevi Patria nimam |publisher=Finance |language=Slovene]

According to MOT, 21 million euros, out of the 278 million total in the deal, was paid in bribes. The transfer was concealed by delivering fewer vehicles and less expensive armaments and extensions than officially announced. Money was channeled to a company held by Patria's Austrian agent, Wolfgang Riedl. Riedl would then forward the money to agents, each distributing the bribes to different groups. Businessman Walter Wolf would interact with Slovenian politicians and painter Jure Cekuta with officials at the Slovenian Ministry of Defence. Riedl transferred 2.8 million to businessman Walter Wolf, but Wolf's attempt to forward the money was stopped by his bank, which informed the Austrian money laundering unit. [cite web |url= |title= "Poglejte oddajo, prisluhnite drugi strani, presodite"|accessdate=2008-09-07 |work= | |date= 1 September 2008]

Response from Janša and the Slovenian government

Janša rejected all accusations, [cite web |url=|title= Janša: Hude obtožbe brez dokazov|accessdate=2008-09-07 |work= | |date= 3 September 2008] and called for the journalists to advance some proof for their claims or to withdraw the accusations. In the case they would do neither, insisting on the accusations without showing the proof, he announced to bring legal action against the journalists. The following day, the Slovenian Government decided to sue the journalists and the broadcasting company for false accusation. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs left two diplomatic notes to the Finnish Government, calling the country enable the disclosure of the documents relative to the investigation in order to bring light in the issue. [] [] On September 6 Slovenian Government communication office asked YLE director Mikael Jungner to air a "second part" of the broadcast, including the viewpoints from other people involved and effectively negating the claims made in the program. [cite web |url=|title= Vlada YLE zaprosila za objavo 2. dela oddaje|accessdate=2008-09-07 |work= | |date= 6 September 2008] [] This request was declined. In a parliamentary hearing on 9 September 2008, Jansa urged the members of parliament to forget the issue for now and bring it back to discussion once some proof has been advanced. []

There is a clause in the deal that allows its cancellation in the case of corruption. On 5 August 2008, Patria provided the Slovenian government with an account of the criminal investigation, where Patria declared in writing that no unlawfulness has occurred in the Slovenian deal. The Slovenian government accepted the declaration and decided not to cancel the deal. []

Finnish government position

So far, the Finnish government has kept a neutral stance. The state of Finland owns a majority share in Patria. The minister responsible for administration of Patria stock, Jan Vapaavuori, said that the Finnish government does not intend to issue any statements, particularly during the election period, as that would intervene in the internal affairs of Slovenia. [YLE Tv-uutiset ja sää, TV1, tiistai klo 20.30 2.9.2008.] The first diplomatic note was answered by Minister of Foreign Affairs Alexander Stubb, who stated that the government will not intervene against the journalists, in respect of the freedom of the press. [] Furthermore, Yle is a non-departmental body directly responsible to a parliamentary committee, not the Finnish Council of State. The second note was answered on similarly neutral terms: the Finnish Council of State will not and cannot interfere in an ongoing police investigation. []

Police investigation

The Finnish police agency investigating the case is National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), and the case will be heard at Helsinki district court. Two employees of Patria have been arrested for questioning, of which one has been officially imprisoned by the Helsinki district court and one has been released. The CEO, Jorma Wiitakorpi, is still considered a suspect, charged with bribery and industrial espionage, [] although Patria's own investigations found no evidence. [] Furthermore, Helsinki district court imprisoned an Austrian and a Slovenian businessman "in absentia", and their hearings are being prepared in co-operation with Austrian and Slovenian officials.

The Finnish NBI criticized the actions of their Slovenian counterparts. According to NBI, the Slovenian police has not provided the information requested for the investigation. On the other hand, when NBI sent a classified list of individuals that the Slovenian police should interview, no interviews were arranged, but the secret list was leaked to the public. According to the officer in charge of the investigation, despite Slovenian police being able and willing to co-operate, the difficulties in the co-operation between the officials are already hindering the investigation.

The Austrian police suspected money laundering and other offenses, when Wolf’s bank warned them about the suspicious transactions and blocked his account. The Austrian Interpol notified the Slovenian police about this but the Slovenian police ignored the notification. It replied only after more than a year, when the news about this was published in the Slovenian daily Dnevnik. []

The Slovenian police investigation has been practically stalled, according to MOT. The Slovenian police rejected the accusations of having leaked the secret list. [] It also started the internal investigation of why the Interpol notification has not been answered to. []


See also

* [ MOT: The Truth about Patria - Manuscript in English]

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