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Finland has witnessed a record surge in economic crime in 2023, reflecting broader economic challenges and increasing financial strain across the country. According to the latest statistics on the shadow economy and economic crime control results, economic crimes, bankruptcies, and tax debts have all seen notable increases.

In 2023, the police recorded nearly 2,400 cases of economic crime, marking a 15% increase from the previous year and the highest number ever recorded.

More than half of these crimes involved tax and accounting offences, including aggravated accounting offences, tax fraud, dishonesty by a debtor, forgeries, as well as rising instances of subsidy fraud and embezzlement.

The number of bankruptcy filings also spiked significantly, with over 3,300 petitions submitted, up 24.8% from 2022. Company reorganizations are similarly on the rise, with 448 applications in 2023, a 32% increase from the previous year. The enforcement authority collected nearly €1.2 billion in taxes, marking it as the second-highest collection year on record.

Tax audits conducted by the Finnish Tax Administration unearthed €95 million in unreported income and €16 million in undeclared wages. The misuse of Kela benefits, totaling over €3.8 million in questionable claims, also prompted police investigations, with around 85% of these cases resulting in convictions.

The Uusimaa Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre), along with occupational safety and health authorities, have uncovered ongoing issues with labor exploitation and disguised employment relationships, particularly in the construction and cleaning sectors. Nearly half of the audited cases showed inaccuracies in working hour records, complicating fair wage calculations.

Janne Marttinen, Head of the Grey Economy Information Unit, noted the increasing fragmentation of the shadow economy, with smaller operators increasingly involved in economic crimes. This shift reflects broader changes in working life, including the rise of the platform economy and forced entrepreneurship, complicating control and investigation efforts.

Authorities have ramped up their control activities, recovering €24.5 million in criminal proceeds and increasing regulation offence investigations by 60% compared to the previous year. Notably, customs investigations into economic crimes yielded a significant financial impact, totaling €103 million.

This rising tide of economic crime underscores the pressing need for enhanced cooperation and information exchange among prevention authorities to effectively tackle these challenges.

HT

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