23 Sep 2020
Government plans an investigation into Trafigura, a minority owner in state-owned mining firm Terrafame, amid suspicions that it laundered hundreds or millions of euros through tax havens, according to Economic Affairs Minister Mika Lintilä (Cen).
The revelations emerged from a major leak of confidential documents to US news site Buzzfeed, indicating that big banks and the international financial system were used to launder money worldwide.
“These kinds of suspicions are extremely unfortunate. They should not be part of business culture,” Lintilä said during a visit to Oulu on Monday afternoon.
He added that government has launched an investigation into the Singapore-based company.
“The ownership steering unit has a probe ongoing. I am relying entirely on the information reported by Yle. I have no information about the possible irregularities that are now public,” Lintilä added.
Assurances of due diligence in 2017
Trafigura is a commodities trading company with operations in dozens of countries. The firm became a significant investor in Terrafame, when it snapped up a 30-percent stake in the then-beleaguered mining firm in 2017. The Finnish government remained a majority shareholder with 70 percent ownership in the mining outfit.
Mika Lintilä was Economic Affairs Minister in 2017, when Trafigura came forward to plough much-needed cash into the loss-making nickel mine in eastern Finland. The deal was brokered amid media reports about Trafigura’s ties with Russia, suspected tax evasion and toxic waste scandals.
At the time, Lintilä vowed that government had conducted background checks on its new investment partner. He said that an external consultant had been hired for the due diligence but did not disclose the name of the firm, citing trade secrecy. On Sunday, Lintilä said he did not recall anything about the due diligence report.
Yle had previously reported on Trafigura’s shady operations, including allegations of bribery in its oil trading division as well as market manipulation.
Read more at Yleisradio Oy
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