Releases > Pressreleases > Spare parts of tanks en route from Russia to Syria via Finland – preliminary investigation by Finnish Customs underway


Spare parts of tanks en route from Russia to Syria via Finland – preliminary investigation by Finnish Customs underway

For publication on 15th February 2013 at 10. a.m.

The Finnish Customs Investigation Service has started a preliminary investigation of an export offence involving defence materiel and of a rationing offence. The investigation focuses on criminal suspicions relating to a container which was unloaded from the Finnlines ship M/S Finnsun at Vuosaari Harbour.

Three captains and one first mate of the Finnsun have been questioned as suspects at this stage of the preliminary investigation. Other staff members of the Finnlines shipping company have also been questioned during the investigation.

On 8 January 2013, a container was unloaded from the Finnsun at Vuosaari Harbour. According to manifest information, the container was en route to Syria. Helsinki Customs inspected the contents of the container at Vuosaari Harbour on 8-9 January.

According to expert statements obtained during the investigation of the matter, the goods in the container are spare parts of tanks which the Customs Investigation Service has seized in connection with the investigation.

For investigative reasons and due to the secrecy provisions of the Finnish Act on the Openness of Government Activities, the preliminary investigation authorities are not able to comment on the consignor or consignee of the goods.  However, initial information indicates that the case involves a commercial transport from Russia to Syria.

The Ministry of Defence and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have been requested to provide official statements during the preliminary investigation. According to information from the Ministry of Defence, a licence for the transit of the consignment had not been applied for or granted in Finland.

EU restrictions on the export of defence materiel are regulated by EU Council Decisions. Based on the reports obtained in the matter, it can be said that the delivery, transfer and export of the tank spare parts in the container from Finland’s territory to Syria is prohibited according to an EU Council Decision.

The Economic Crime Division of the Customs Investigation Service will be in contact with several international authorities during the preliminary investigation in order to clear up the matter. It is possible that several more requests for legal and administrative assistance will be made as the investigation continues.

The Customs Investigation Service handles the release of information in the matter. More information on the investigation will next be published on Thursday 14 March 2013 at 12 p.m. unless new, significant information emerges before that date.

Further information (on Friday, 15 February 2013):
Mr Petri Lounatmaa, Head of Investigation, Customs Investigation Service, tel. +358 (0) 40 332 2149.