HELSINKI — Six employees of Finnish defense group Patria were charged Dec. 18 with bribery and corporate espionage in connection with a Slovenian defense contract for armored vehicles, Finnish prosecutors said.
The six include the former chief executives of the Patria group and its affiliate, Patria Vehicles. Patria signed a contract in 2006 to deliver 135 vehicles to Slovenia, during Prime Minister Janez Jansa’s first term in office. The order was part of Ljubljana’s efforts to modernize its military after joining NATO in 2004.
“The defendants are suspected to have participated in promising or giving of bribes in the shape of commission payments through intermediaries in exchange for (the) actions of Slovenian public officials and military officers,” the Finnish prosecution service said in a statement. “These, among others the prime minister and the deputy chief of general staff for Slovenia, were considered to have leverage in the procurement procedure of the vehicles,” it said.
The alleged bribes were 10 percent of the value of the sale, “which exceeded 160 million euros ($212 million),” it said, noting, however, that only part of the bribes had been paid.
Jansa, prime minister for the second time since February, is still on trial over the affair but has dismissed the case and the allegations against him as a farce. Slovenia’s order of 135 vehicles was meanwhile reduced in September to just 30.
During the Finnish investigation, documents containing “trade secrets of an Austrian competitor of Patria were found in possession of the suspects, which gave rise to suspicions of business espionage,” the prosecution said. All suspects have denied all of the accusations against them, it added.