Date: 29 June 2019
Gazprom Lobbyists Among Finland’s High-Ranking Government Officials
When the Russians, together with their Western partners, were busy implementing further gas pipeline projects through the Baltic Sea, Finland was the least of their problems. The government in Helsinki had no trouble granting all necessary consents for the construction of both Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2. The official version is that Finland views these projects solely from an economic standpoint, with no hidden political agenda whatsoever. This is hardly surprising, given that one of the most important lobbyists for Gazprom is former Prime Minister of Finland Paavo Lipponen. Besides, there are plenty of Finnish politicians who are willing to provide various services for Russian companies in exchange for financial gain.
The latest financial reports show that a consulting company owned by Paavo Lipponen, a former Prime Minister of Finland from the Social Democratic Party, has an exclusively high operating profitability rate. In 2018, the Cosmopolis company generated substantial profits. According to a financial report for the year 2018 submitted to the Finnish Trade Register (Finnish: Kaupparekisteri), the net sales of services amounted to €262,000, €168,000 of which were the company’s operating profit. The operating profit margin was 64%. The company’s employee expenses amounted to around €8,000. At the end of 2018, Cosmopolis had a lot of internal capital. The distributed share capital of over €440,000 was accumulated from previous profits. In 2017, the net sales volume of Lipponen’s company was €256,000 while the operating profit was €129,000. The company paid dividends of €27,000 in 2018 and of €57,000 in 2017. What exactly does Cosmopolis do? It provides consulting services on the Nord Stream and Nord Stream 2 projects. Since Finland voiced no objections to the latter project, it seems that the company is being run effectively.
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However, Lipponen is not the only important Finnish Social Democrat who supports Gazprom in return for financial gain. Antton Rönnholm, who became the Secretary General of the Social Democratic Party in 2017, received transfers in the amount of €200,000 through his own consulting company for the work on the South Stream gas pipeline project in the years 2011-2013. After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, there was no lustration in Finland. Therefore, former ties between Finnish politicians and both the KGB and the CPSU are still relevant today. Paavo Lipponen, the long-serving Prime Minister who started his political career as the Secretary of Kalevi Sorsa and later the International Secretary for the Social Democrats, was strongly against the publication of the so-called “Tiitinen list” and the opening of archives on the Stasi’s activities (the East German secret police) in Finland. In 2008, Lipponen announced that he signed an agreement with Nord Stream AG, according to which he was to provide consulting services for the company. Apart from Lipponen himself, many of his political associates, including Antton Rönnholm, Lipponen’s former secretary who is now the Secretary General of the Social Democrats, have also acted in the interest of Gazprom.
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