Finland Reportedly Blocks Sale of Real Estate to Russian Buyer Over 'Security Risks'
06:40 GMT 22.06.2022 (Updated: 20:56 GMT 19.10.2022)
According to the Finnish Defense Ministry, the screening of foreigners' permit applications to procure property, introduced via a 2020 law, has been intensified following Russia's special operation in Ukraine, which Finland regards as a security risk.
The Finnish state has blocked the sale of an industrial property to a Russian buyer, citing national security reasons, according to
the tabloid newspaper Ilta-Sanomat
Previously, a Russian citizen had inquired about buying an empty property located in vicinity of Rovaniemi Airport in Lapland County. However, the sale of real estate and plots in the proximity of airports is regarded as potentially posing strategic military risks.
The Defense Ministry confirmed that a decision to preemptively block the deal was taken, yet refused to comment on the details.
The law on the right to refuse permission to buy real estate in Finland came into force on January 1, 2020. The law stipulates that private individuals, states and companies or other entities from outside of the European Union (EU) or the European Economic Area (EEA) must obtain permission from Finnish authorities to buy real estate in Finland.
According to the Real Estate and Environment at the Defense Ministry, the legislation has been put in place to protect national security. It stressed that the security environment in the Baltic region has deteriorated over the last decade, emphasizing the need to create a system that allows the monitoring and controlling of real estate purchases in Finland.
Defense Ministry consultant Anu Sallinen said that the screening of foreigners' permit applications has been intensified following Russia's special operation to demilitarize and de-Nazify Ukraine and protect the inhabitants of Donbass, which Finland regards as “invasion” and a security risk.
“With the new law in place, we have become aware of some worrying transactions. The law is really important, because before that foreigners were able to freely buy land and real estate located in strategically sensitive areas. It cannot be ruled out that the Russians, for example, had suspicious intentions in trade,” she added.
According to the newspaper, the Rovaniemi case was only the second time that the Finnish state has used its right to intervene. Previously, a real estate deal in a holiday village on the island of Kemiönsaari was blocked due to the proximity to the Skinnarvik depot used by the Armed Forces.