The Ministry of Finance has announced its decision not to take further action following the recent conviction of Antti Hartikainen, the director general of Finnish Customs. Hartikainen will thereby be able to continue in his current capacity at Finnish Customs.
The District Court of Helsinki on 4 May found Hartikainen guilty of violation of official duty for failing to disqualify himself from a meeting that dealt indirectly with the fixed-term employment of his spouse.
The Ministry of Finance on Tuesday assured it nevertheless takes the ruling seriously.
“Strict compliance with the disqualification rules is a key principle of good and sustainable administration. The ministry, however, sees no need to take action based on the provisions on public service,” it explained in a press release.
It also argued that the legal proceedings brought to light relevant new information that had not been taken into consideration in a ruling issued by the Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman on 25 May, 2016.
Helsingin Sanomat on Tuesday reported that the decision not to take action has raised eyebrows among legal experts.
Olli Mäenpää, a professor of administrative law at the University of Helsinki, highlighted in an interview with the newspaper that the district court considered the offence deliberate and serious, whereas the ministry called attention to mitigating factors.
“But when you consider the director general’s position and two previous reprimands, you could’ve also reached a different conclusion based on the overall assessment,” he stated.
Seppo Koskinen, a professor of labour law at the University of Turku, similarly expressed his puzzlement with the decision, reminding that a deliberate offence in office is typically regarded as sufficient grounds for issuing a warning.
“Is this a clear message from the ministry that committing a deliberate offence while performing your official duties doesn’t meet the threshold for issuing a warning?” he said to Helsingin Sanomat.
The District Court of Helsinki’s ruling is not yet final as the defendant has expressed his dissatisfaction with it.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Photo: Martti Kainulainen – Lehtikuva
Source: Uusi Suomi