Authorities in Finland have released from pretrial custody a 51-year-old Estonian citizen connected to the investigation into alleged money laundering and tax evasion at the company Airiston Helmi, Finnish public broadcaster Yle reported on Tuesday. The second suspect, a 36-year-old Russian citizen, remains behind bars.
According to the police, the Russian citizen is a flight risk and may try to obstruct the investigation or evade trial.
Chief police investigator Tomi Taskila said that given the scope of the case, it make take until next autumn to press charges, although the initial plan was to do so in February.
The Estonian national is suspected of aiding and abetting tax fraud. He was released from custody by a decision of the chief investigator at the end of November after spending nearly two months in prison.
While police have refused to disclose the names of the Estonian national and the Russian national detained on 2 October, according to the Finnish media they are closely linked to the company Airiston Helmi, which owns an island in Finland's Turku Archipelago as well as 17 tourist facilities and hotels.
A large-scale police operation involving some 400 police officers and representatives of other state institutions was carried out on 21-22 September, including searches at 17 locations in the Turku Archipelago. Police found numerous surveillance cameras, a helipad, nine berths, about €3 million in cash as well as 200 terabytes of data on the uninhabited island.
The Finnish national security police were also involved in the investigation.
While Airiston Helmi is formally suspected of economic crimes, according to some media, this is cover for the investigation of preparations for hybrid war by Russia.
Editor: Aili Vahtla