HELSINKI — Patria Group has moved to overhaul its core global marketing and sales functions in the wake of the death, under suspicious circumstances, of a business consultant authorized by the state defense company to negotiate new business in Uganda.
Finland’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Mika Lintilä, has instructed Patria’s management to present a report on the death, in Kampala, of Finnish business consultant Tuomas Teräsvuori.
The event has already resulted in the resignation of three executives, including two senior managers at Patria Land Systems, Patria’s land business division.
Group CEO Olli Isotalo said management was unaware that Teräsvuori was in Uganda to represent Patria in sales talks.
“A letter, written in very general terms, was issued by a low-level sales executive to the consultant. Discussions with Uganda would have been rejected from the very start had the matter been known by senior management,” Isotalo said.
The letter from Patria’s sales and marketing division had authorized Teräsvuori to represent the company in arms sales talks both in Uganda and Mozambique.
Why is the death suspicious?
The consultant’s body was found in his hotel room in the Pearl of Africa Hotel on Feb. 6. Three women, all Ugandan nationals, have been arrested by police in connection with Teräsvuori’s death.
Teräsvuori had traveled to Uganda to discuss a possible weapons contract with government and military officials. He was scheduled to meet with Col. Frank Kaka Bagyenda, the director general of the Internal Security Organisation, Uganda’s counterintelligence agency.
A toxicology report released to police investigators indicated that Teräsvuori had cocaine dosed with pesticides and herbicides in his body at the time of death. The forensic autopsy found traces of the substances in the liver, kidneys and urine of the deceased.
The investigation into the Finnish business consultant’s death continues. Police have not ruled out foul play.
What is Patria changing?
The overhaul to Patria’s sales and marketing organization will focus on creating greater transparency around how Patria recruits and works with external consultants in the pursuit of new business and contracts.
Isotalo said “corrective measures” are being implemented to ensure senior management in the company is aware at all times of contract talks planned between its sales and marketing division and foreign governments.
Moreover, Patria’s sales and marketing chiefs will be prohibited from opening new business talks with countries and governments without prior authorization from the company’s senior management team.
All new sales talks with countries will also require the division to conduct a risk-assessment analysis.
“We don’t want our sales teams to make decisions about whether to enter these kinds of new markets. All such decisions will now go through the executive board,” Isotalo said.
Compliance training, focusing on Patria’s corporate values and code-of-conduct issues, is being rolled out across all core divisions in the company, the CEO added.
Finland’s economic affairs minister noted that information around the event had so far indicated neither the Patria CEO nor his management team were aware of Teräsvuori’s visit to Uganda.
“According to the information I have at this point, the CEO has my confidence. It is clear that mistakes were made, and this is why I have asked for a case report from Patria,” Lintilä said.
Lintilä also holds ministerial oversight over the Finnish government’s ownership steering office, which manages the state’s equity-linked investments in various private and public enterprises.
The Finnish state holds a controlling 50.1 percent shareholding in Patria.