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Investigation clears Ilmarinen executives of bribery

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FINLAND - Two board members at Finnish pension insurer Ilmarinen will not face charges of bribery following a three-month investigation by the prosecutor-general's office into the acquisition of an apartment from Finnair chief executive Mika Vehviläinen.

In a statement, Ilmarinen board chairman Jussi Pesonen said the prosecutor-general's decision not to prosecute chief executive Harri Sailas and deputy chief executive Timo Ritakallio had been "expected".

"We have constantly emphasised that nothing illegal has taken place," he said.

"We are relieved the investigation has been completed and the authorities have established the legality of our working principles."

The investigation centred on a €1.8m sale-and-leaseback deal signed with Vehviläinen in February last year at a time when Vehviläinen was a member of the €28.7bn insurer's board and Sailas was chairman of Finnair.

Vehviläinen continued to live in the apartment, with his rent paid by the Finnish airline.

But the deputy-prosecutor said there was no evidence that Ilmarinen, which is also a major shareholder in Finnair, paid an excessive price for the asset, or that the deal had been "exceptionally lucrative" for Vehviläinen.

Ilmarinen has real estate assets under management of €3.2bn - 12% of its overall portfolio - including 4,500 residential units located mainly in capital Helsinki.

Vehviläinen issued a statement on Monday saying: "I have learned the hard way that it is not enough to follow legislation, but one must also consider ethical viewpoints and how things may look."

Sailas said the matter was now closed.

"We helped the investigating authorities in every way, and they took care of their work expeditiously," he said in Ilmarinen's statement.

"It's great that we can once again focus fully on Finnish employment pension security."

But he indicated the investigation could lead to changes in the pension insurer's governance.

"The strengthening of good governance will continue to be an area where there is to be an active and awake," he said.

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