There has been a strange story in Finland this last few months about an alleged breach of official duty by the head of the Office of the Prosecutor General because of negligence, error of judgement or, worse still, because of deliberate intent.
The story started when the newly appointed Prosecutor General (PG) decided to procure a training course from his brother’s company. Naturally, under the present procurement law, all civil servants must disqualify themselves from any decision that involves business dealings where there is a possibility of conflict of interest like dealings with close relatives.
Although the sums of money involved in the training programs are not huge, this is all rudimentary knowledge for all civil servants. Most people understand these matters easily, and they should be glaringly obvious to the PG who is one of the highest keepers of the law in Finland.
The PG has admitted that he was party to the decision to procure his brother’s company for training courses, but that his action was thoughtless or careless, and not a deliberate breach of official duty.
The prosecution in this case has evidence that allegedly pointed to a deliberate breach from statements given by 10 of the PG’s colleagues who warned him about the need to disqualify himself from the procurement.
However, the prosecution has dropped its accusation that the action of the PG was deliberate, and only demands a sentencing for a thoughtless or careless action against the PG.
This means that the evidence of the 10 witnesses will not be entered into court. This decision to not call the witnesses has, it appears, greatly surprised many other prosecutors according to media reports here in Finland.
The Office of Prosecutor General is now scorned in the press, and this story creates the impression that lawyers and other officials involved in or near the case are looking out for one another in a way that can be interpreted as casting a strong cloud of suspicion over the Office.
The court case in the Supreme Court will be taking place in November.