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Newsline: Finland’s Stockholm embassy accused of peddling booze

Employees of the Finnish embassy in Stockholm have been accused of bootlegging tax free cigarettes, wine, beer and spirits to the tune of thousands of Swedish kronor in an investigation by Finland Swedish news agency Svensk Presstjänst (SPT). International conventions means that anyone with diplomat status employed at an embassy is allowed to buy tobacco and alcohol without paying tax, but only for their own use or the use of their representatives. In August, Finnish news agency FNB reported that alcohol and tobacco products may have been sold on by staff from the Finnish embassy to people who were not covered by the privilege, however. And now, SPT claims that the sum total of unpaid tax on the products may have been as much as 190,000 kronor ($21,700) per year in the period between 2013 and 2015. The news agency cites Swedish Foreign Ministry (UD) figures as its source, with UD’s approval required for tax-free purchases made by embassies. In 2014, Finland’s former ambassador to Sweden Jarno Viinanen told SPT that “you have to remember that the embassy arranges over a hundred events every year”. But according to the news agency Viinanen soon noticed that something was not right, and quickly put an end to what he described as fairly well organized peddling. Since then, the amount of tax-free purchases of tobacco and alcohol from the Finnish embassy are said to have reduced significantly.



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