Secrecy for Sale

Published — April 24, 2013 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Finnish finance minister calls state-owned postal company’s links to tax havens ‘repulsive’


Finnish state-owned postal company Itella has offshore subsidiaries in both Cyprus and the BVI, documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists show.

The revelation comes at a time when the Finnish government promised to be at the frontline of the fight against tax evasion. Since 2011, Finland has explored the possibility of adopting a stricter set of criteria for tax havens, surpassing the standards applied by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Itella, part of the National Mail Company, has had four subsidiaries in tax havens over the past five years; three in Cyprus and one in the British Virgin Islands.

In 2008, Itella bought the Russian logistics company NLC International Corporation, which was registered in the BVI with subsidiaries in Cyprus. Internal documents obtained by the ICIJ and MOT/Finnish Broadcasting Company, YLE, show that the transaction was made through the offshore firm Commonwealth Trust Limited.

The director of Itella Logistics in Russia, Vesa Vertanen, said in an interview with Finnish state television that Itella is going to dissolve the company in the BVI by the end of this year and move it to Cyprus.

Cyprus is a known tax haven favored by Russians who want to hold assets offshore.

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