Finnish political charity scandal continues

Three top posts vacated in wake of political funding scandal

Yesterday's revelations that donations from Finland's Slot Machine Association (RAY) had found their way into political funding via the Finnish Youth Foundation (see previous InfoPowa report) continued to reverberate through both organisations today with heads rolling.

The 18 year tenure of RAY chairman and former Centre Party MP, Jukka Vihriälä ended when he resigned Tuiesday following the news that the Youth Foundation, which benefits from RAY funding, had purchased art to support Vihriälä’s campaign supporters’ association.

“When it has come to light that campaign funds obtained by my supporters’ association were not appropriate, I felt it was best that I step down from RAY,” he said. ”I should have understood that as chair of the association, I could not accept campaign contributions that came from RAY funding.”

Vihriälä is a former MP and the current deputy speaker of the Seinäjoki city council. He served as the head of RAY for 18 years. Deputy chair Juha Eskelinen is to take over as acting chair.

The RAY chairman's departure was quickly followed by the resignation of Centre Parliamentarian Antti Kaikkonen, who was chair of the Youth Foundation.

Kaikkonen said he recently learned the scale of which the Youth Foundation, under the direction of former managing director Jorma Heikkinen, had supported the election campaign of RAY chairman Jukka Vihriälä.

Heikkinen also resigned from the Youth Foundation's board.

Kaikkonen said Heikkinen should have considered the implications of the campaign financing more carefully, and admitted that as chair, he should have done a better job monitoring the foundation. He added he was unaware of how much funding had been provided.

The Youth Foundation is expected to select a new chair in the near future.

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