TYTTI YLI-VIIKARI, the suspended director general of the National Audit Office of Finland (VTV), has broken her media silence about the accusations levelled against her in an interview on YLE TV1.
“What brings a sense of calm in this situation is that I know I’m not guilty of any malfeasance,” she stated to the public broadcaster on Sunday.
Yli-Viikari added that she wants to address the misunderstandings tossed about during what she called a protracted publicity storm. Ordinary citizens, she revealed, have reached out to her to express their concern about the use of public funds.
“There have been claims that I’ve used taxpayers’ money for personal expenses. That is not true.”
The make-up, photography and travel costs scrutinised in public, she stressed, have all been linked to her duties as the director general of VTV. “My mistake was not addressing the incomplete and suggestive messages that case a shadow of doubt over the good work of the office early enough,” she said.
The Chancellery Commission of the Parliament has suspended Yli-Viikari from her duty for the duration of a pre-trial investigation conducted by the National Bureau of Investigation (KRP). The investigation revolves on an arrangement that saw an official earn a wage without having to work and the use of frequent-flyer points accumulated on work trips.
“These are both things where I’ve committed no offences in office,” said Yli-Viikari. “They’re associated with suggestions and images that portray me in a way that I myself don’t recognise.”
Yli-Viikari stated in her reply to the commission that she believes the actual reason for her suspension to be public feedback, pressure from the media and the long-running media coverage of the issue.
“The Parliament had the view, based on media reports alone, that these things don’t provide judicial justification for the suspension process, so something must’ve happened. My interpretation is that pressure from the media and citizens created a framework where it was viewed that these same things do after all provide the justification for suspension from duty,” she reiterated to YLE on Sunday.
She also pointed out that the situation is ambiguous in regards to the frequent-flyer programmes of airlines and the travel-related requirements imposed on public officials.
“Frequent-flyer points shouldn’t be for personal use,” she said.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT