Last year and this year, the Russians have received about 260 permit applications to buy real estate in Finland.
Ministry of Defense has not blocked any licensed real estate transactions in the past and this year.
From the beginning of 2020 and the end of September this year, the Ministry of Defense has received 935 applications for the purchase of real estate in Finland.
At the end of September, 902 permits had been issued, and the rest were still pending at that time.
At the beginning of last year, a law came into force in Finland, which requires persons and companies outside the EU and the European Economic Area to obtain a permit from the Ministry of Defense before a real estate transaction.
The law was enacted because there were fears that Russia in particular would acquire holdings, especially in the vicinity of areas critical to the Finnish defense administration. Admittedly, there has been no evidence of such activity, at least in public.
The Russians are the largest group of buyers of licensed properties in Finland. They have applied for a total of about 260 permits last year and this year, of which 247 had been granted by the end of September.
The next largest number of permits have been issued to Ukrainians, Chinese, Americans, Swiss, Indians, British and Vietnamese.
Of the Russian applicants, 229 have been private individuals, and the rest of the applicants are companies. Most of the permits have been applied for residential and leisure use. The most popular provinces are South Karelia, South Savo and Kymenlaakso.
“About 70,000 real estate transactions are made in Finland every year. We are still talking about very small amounts of real estate going outside the EU and EEA, ”says the consulting officer. Anu Sallinen from the Ministry of Defense.
Applicants have included passport holders from about 60 countries.
“As a rule, probably about 80 percent of the applicants live in Finland. Significantly fewer buyers come from outside Finland, ”says Sallinen.
Sallinen estimates that the majority of Russians living near the border buy property in South Karelia near the border crossings due to easy transport connections.
“The main part, I dare say, is very cheap shops for ordinary people.”
Allow According to the Ministry, the Ministry always considers that if a person already lives in Finland, whether or not a new real estate transaction actually poses an increasing risk to Finland.
Permit applicants living outside Finland are asked what their connection is with Finland and why they want to buy a property in Finland.
What do Russians say about the reason to buy real estate in Finland?
“They are the traditional ones, ie beautiful nature, peaceful and democratic society and that the property may be safe in Finland,” says Sallinen.
“In the background of real estate transactions from some countries, it is good to recognize that they may make certain property arrangements that are in no way illegal, but they transfer their property to countries where their authorities may not have access to it.”
Golden passports cannot be used to circumvent the control of the Ministry of Defense, says Anu Sallinen.
Ministry of Defense by December, prepare a report for the Parliamentary Defense Committee on the functioning of the new Licensing Act.
In the Ministry’s view, the law is considered to have a preventive effect and can be used to create an overall picture of the acquisition of real estate.
However, the debate has been sparked by so-called golden passports, ie passports and residence permits issued by some EU countries for money or investment.
Read more: The European Commission is taking action against Cyprus and Malta over ‘golden passports’
Sallinen assures that golden passports cannot be used to circumvent the control of the Ministry of Defense.
“We get information about users of golden passports and visas from the National Land Survey of Finland. A buyer who imagines that he can completely get out of the Finnish authorities’ screen is completely wrong, ”says Sallinen.
“We regularly request information from specific countries such as Cyprus, Malta, Portugal, Greece and Bulgaria. Austria and Ireland will also be monitored in the future. “
HS: n According to the information requested from the National Land Survey of Finland, 79 real estate transactions have been made in Finland last year and this year with the passports of the above-mentioned seven countries. Of these, a total of seven buyers had the passports of the most notorious sellers of golden passports, namely Cyprus or Malta.
It is easy to circumvent Finland’s new permit law by using Finnish and Russian dual citizens as a bulwark. A person who has a Finnish passport does not need a permit from the Ministry of Defense for his or her real estate transaction.
“Here you have to put ice in your hat. Anything that feels uncomfortable is not a hybrid effect, ”Sallinen says.
“We need to find a balance between paying attention to the right things and not chasing and running for things that ultimately pose a significant threat, risk or danger.”
Finland three years ago, the authorities made an exceptional attack on Airiston Helmi in the Turku archipelago. At the time, there was even public suspicion that a Russian military base would be found at the site.
Among other things, a mannequin dressed in terrain and a decommissioned official boat were found on the islands, on which a lot had been built. The Russian owner of Airiston Helmi is now suspected only of financial crimes.
Read more: HS investigates Airiston Helmi’s holdings in the Turku archipelago, which was the target of the krp operation – the graphic shows how the company has bought numerous islands from an important shipping lane
Read more: A massive police operation was carried out in the Turku archipelago – Now the targeted Russian millionaire tells HS why he is hauling islands out of Finnish waters
Recently, there has been public talk that Kotasaari in Puumala has been transferred to Russian ownership. According to Sallinen, of course, the matter is being followed: “The significance of its whole may not be so great, why it has grown in recent days.”