Monday 10/25/21

Trash-masks scandal claims two other victims among senior officials

Two members of the management team of the Center for Security of Supply (Huoltovarmuuskeskus, in Finnish) have been suspended.
Trash-mask-scandal3
Tiina Jylhä, Tomi Lounema, Onni Sarmaste and Minister Tuula Haatainen.

The recent scandal of the trash-masks for which Finland paid 10 million euros though they did not meet quality and safety standards for use in hospitals, has claimed two other political victims among top officials.

Two members of the management team of the Center for Security of Supply (Huoltovarmuuskeskus, in Finnish), have been suspended or "temporarily removed" from their jobs by the Board of the agency. 

The decision was made during the board meetings on Saturday and Sunday and announced on Monday, three days after the resignation of the CEO of the Center for Security of Supply, Tomi Lounema. 

Meanwhile, criticism and requests for resignation against the Minister of Employment, Tuula Haatainen, under whose command the center operated, intensified.

The managers removed are Asko Harjula and Jyrki Hakola .

According to the News Agency STT, Hakola was the person who ordered, on behalf of the Center for Security of Supply, the faulty masks from Onni Sarmaste, a fast-loans entrepreneur of dubious reputation and poor credit history. 

A tabloid celebrity in health business 

Last Friday, Tomi Lounema, the CEO of the Center for Security of Supply (Huoltovarmuuskeskus, in Finnish), was forced to resign after admitting he had spent 10 millions of euros on protective equipment that was not up to scratch for hospital use.

The scandal began when it was discovered that the 2 million protective surgical masks and 230,000 respirators brought to Finland by plane from China on 4-5 April did not meet the quality requirements of the hospitals to fight against the Covid-19.

Luonema admitted that he did not check the business history of Tiina Jylhä -a tabloid celebrity who owns a beauty and plastic surgery clinic in Estonia- and Onni Sarmaste before transferring to their bank accounts 10 millions of euros from taxpayers.

Sarmaste: 'They knew what they bought'

But Onni Sarmaste insists that Finnish managers knew that the material they were buying did not meet the requirements for hospital use.

Earlier on Friday Prime Minister Sanna Marin said she had lost confidence in Lounema's management of the agency.

Minister Tuula Haatainen announced the resignation at a press conference, stating that the agency’s credibility had been damaged.

Lounema’s interim replacement is Janne Känkänen, Director for EU and International Affairs at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment.

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