Members of the Finnish Parliament have rushed to declare their support for a legislative proposal that would limit land and property acquisitions by foreign citizens in Finland.
The calls intensified in the aftermath of a series of house searches conducted in connection with a massive pre-trial investigation into economic offences by the National Bureau of Investigation (KRP) in South-west Finland between Saturday and Sunday.
The investigators have interrogated a total of seven people and placed two of them under arrest. Both of the people under arrest are of foreign background, Tomi Taskila, the chief superintendent in charge of the investigation, told Helsingin Sanomat on Monday.
KRP revealed one day earlier that the offences under investigation include aggravated money laundering and aggravated tax fraud.
Media reports, meanwhile, linked the large-scale operation to Airiston Helmi, a Russia-tied listed company that has acquired a number of land plots along key shipping lanes in the archipelago of Turku. KRP has not confirmed the name of the company under investigation and has underscored that the searches, seizures and arrests were part of an investigation into economic offences.
Airiston Helmi reported operating losses of roughly 300,000 euros in 2017 and over 600,000 in 2016, according to Helsingin Sanomat.
Iltalehti in January wrote, citing an unnamed military officer, that the land acquisitions appear to be strategic and motivated by a desire to facilitate the monitoring of key shipping lanes in the area.
The legislative proposal under consideration would introduce a new permit for land acquisitions made from outside the European Economic Area (EEA). It would also allow the state to invoke the right of first refusal and the right to expropriation for land plots located in areas deemed significant for national security.
“It’s very important that this important legislative is passed by the Parliament,” Tom Packálen (PS) underscores in a blog post.
Timo Heinonen (NCP), similarly, viewed that the legislative work must be sped up, but also pointed out that the government has already prevented and annulled land acquisitions in areas of strategic importance.
“Preparatory work on the law to limit land acquisitions by foreign citizens started already in 2017, and the original objective was to enact the law as of the start of next year. It is now necessary to speed up the effort,” he said.
Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö (BR) said earlier this autumn that the objective is to implement the law by the end of the current electoral term.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
Source: Uusi Suomi