Finland’s Parliament set to suspend auditor general over expenses claims

Finland’s Parliament on Tuesday began the procedure to suspend Tytti Yli-Viikari, auditor general of the National Audit Office of Finland (VTV), from her position pending the conclusion of a formal investigation into her expenses claims.

Yli-Viikari’s lavish lifestyle and large travel expenses attracted media attention late last year, which has led to allegations of misuse of government funds for personal reasons.

Several investigations are under way, including those by a parliamentary audit committee and the police.

Parliament Speaker Anu Vehvilainen said at a press conference here on Tuesday that Yli-Viikari’s suspension was necessary to reduce the damage done to the VTV, which is the highest supervisory body for public spending in Finland. “Therefore, the agency and its management must be required to show good judgment in using money,” she said.

Vehvilainen also said that in her opinion “The costs of makeup and styling should be paid from own pocket.”

Yli-Viikari maintains her innocence. However, her explanations given so far in two meetings with the parliamentary committee were not satisfactory and therefore the suspension process had to be launched, Vehvilainen said, adding that Yli-Viikari will give a written response later.

The ultimate decision in this unprecedented case belongs to the plenary session of Parliament, which had appointed Yli-Viikari to her current post, said Maija-Leena Paavola, secretary general of Parliament, told journalists.

Ari Salminen, professor emeritus in public management at Finland’s Vaasa University, commented on national radio Yle that since the VTV inspects and guides other sectors of government in correct spending, its actions must be “exemplary.”