THE ACTIONS of Tytti Yli-Viikari, the director general of the National Audit Office (VTV), have “significantly undermined” confidence in the operations and public image of VTV, according to the Audit Committee of the Finnish Parliament.
The Audit Committee on Tuesday said the Parliament’s Chancellery Commission should determine whether the director is able to perform her duties in accordance with the act on public officials.
If the commission rules that the criteria for termination are met, the issue should be presented to the Finnish Parliament.
Outi Alanko-Kahiluoto (Greens), the chairperson of the Audit Committee, reminded that because the issue necessitates an examination of the act on public officials it falls outside the purview of the committee.
“I personally won’t comment on [whether the director general should be terminated],” she said. “It’s the committee’s view that the detected discrepancies and wrongdoings are serious.”
VTV has been the subject of an audit by the Audit Committee since February. The audit has focused especially on its internal auditing procedures, risk management practices and compliance with guidelines on business travel.
The Audit Committee on Tuesday noted that Yli-Viikari ran up travel expenses in excess of 187,000 euros in 2016–2020, a total that translates to a yearly average of 37,000 euros and far exceeds the costs of her predecessor, Tuomas Pöysti. Pöysti reported annual travel expenses of about 11,600 euros in 2014 and 7,500 euros in 2015.
Yli-Viikari explained the surge in expenses by stating that her participation in the activities and collaborative projects of the international auditing community is necessary to develop and renew the operations of VTV.
“The committee considered it necessary to request information regarding the purpose of the business journeys and the benefits of the journeys for the office’s operations. The director general did not answer these questions in the expert hearing,” reads the statement from the Audit Committee.
Unknown also is the fate of the frequent-flyer points Yli-Viikari had accumulated with Finnair.
“The director general has replied that the information on the Finnair Plus account is personal, that it is not public information, and that she has no obligation to answer questions related to it,” the statement said.
Yli-Viikari has been suspended from duty for the duration of a pre-trial investigation opened by the National Bureau of Investigation (KRP). The investigation is linked not only to the use of frequent-flyer points, but also to an arrangement that saw an official receive pay without the obligation to work.
Yli-Viikari has denied the malfeasance accusations.
Aleksi Teivainen – HT