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Real estate firm chaired by ‘Maltese’ citizen raided by police in Finland

Malta’s passport scheme has proven to be attractive to Russians.

Malta’s passport scheme has proven to be attractive to Russians.

A real estate company chaired by a Russian with a Maltese passport has been raided in Finland following suspicions of financial crimes, Finland’s public broadcaster YLE has reported.

Company filings seen by the Times of Malta shows that the Airiston Helmi real estate firm is chaired by Pavel Melnikov.

The filings show that Mr Melnikov, a native Russian, was issued with a Maltese passport on August 5, 2015.

Sources close to Identity Malta confirmed that Mr Melnikov was a Maltese passport buyer.

YLE reported that Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation said it carried out an extensive search of several business premises suspected to be involved in financial crimes.

The Finnish public broadcaster reported that eyewitnesses said the searches targeted Airiston Helmi, a company that has been involved in multi-million euro property transactions.

YLE’s Swedish language investigative unit once had a drone taking aerial shots of one of the company’s business premises “downed”.

The crew managed to recover the drone, but the camera attached to it was gone.

So far, three people have reportedly been arrested and four people were questioned in relation to the raid.

Finnish media reports said police seized a large number of documents and electronic media from various locations.

The company has reported systematically acquired properties on the Turku archipelago, while declaring losses. 

Finnish Channel MTV3 described the archipelago as an important shipping corridor and maritime connection to Åland, an island said to be central to the management of the Baltic Sea.

Helsingin Sanomat, a Finnish daily newspaper, quoted a military source saying Airiston Helmi’s operations had long been of interest to Finland’s defence forces.

The newspaper reported that Airiston Helmi had applied for a helicopter landing site for Russian nationals, and had purchased properties on key marine traffic routes.

Malta’s citizenship scheme has proven to be an attractive draw for Russian nationals.

In an interview with the Financial Times last month, EU Justice Commissioner Věra Jourová questioned how Russian nationals who had worked their whole lives in middle or senior management positions could afford a Maltese passport.

The government sells Maltese passports against a €650,000 contribution, a property purchase as well as investments in stocks and bonds.

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