investigation into the bribery allegations surrounding the Public Works Department of Helsinki (HKR) rumbles on.
Investigators suspect that a minimum of 540,000 euros was pilfered with altered or fabricated invoices during a handful of public construction projects in 2003-2011. Helsinki, in turn, has estimated that the invoice racket cost it as much as 1.6 million euros.
Altogether, as many as 35 people are suspected of wrongdoings during seven construction projects carried out by YIT, Fira, Lujatalo and Rakennus Oy Antti J. Ahola. However, the number of companies embroiled in the case increases considerably if the sub-contracting arrangements of the constructors are taken into consideration.
Information obtained from HKR by Helsingin Sanomat indicates that HKR issued requests for tenders and commissioned three construction projects linked to the allegations between 1 January 2009 and 30 June 2014: the construction of the control room at the Herttoniemi Metro Station, the renovation of the Youth Department of Helsinki on Hietaniemenkatu and the exterior makeover of the Pirkkola Sports Park.
The realised costs of the projects do not deviate markedly from the initial cost estimates.
Overall, the four construction companies implicated in the bribery scandal charged 150 million euros from Helsinki over a period of five years and six months.
HKR has in the aftermath of the scandal revised its internal policies. City engineer Raimo K. Saarinen, the managing director at HKR, reveals that it is no longer possible for a single employee to approve invoices directly, but that all invoices are reviewed by more than one employee.
One of the main suspects in the case is a former project manager at HKR.
YIT, in turn, has carried out spot checks at its public construction sites but has not detected any notable wrongdoings, highlights Tero Kiviniemi, the deputy CEO at YIT. Similarly to HKR, the construction company has also revised its invoice review and approval procedure.
YIT is believed to have raked in 50,000 euros in unjust enrichment as a result of the illicit activities.
Jyri Hänninen – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
© HELSINGIN SANOMAT
Image: Benjamin Suomela / HS