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Katri Kulmuni: Finnish minister quits over media training row

Katri Kulmuni (L) and Sanna Marin take part in talk show - 3 DecemberImage copyright Reuters
Image caption Ms Kulmuni (L) and PM Sanna Marin (R) were presented last year as the new face of Finnish politics

Finnish Finance Minister Katri Kulmuni has resigned following revelations that she spent more than €50,000 (£44,500) of public money on media training.

Ms Kulmuni, who has also led the Centre Party since September 2019, previously promised to pay back the money.

She is the second senior minister to quit the five-party coalition, after ex-PM Antti Rinne left in December.

The 32-year-old was the youngest minister in the coalition, unique in that all five parties are female-led.

“I have come to the conclusion that I cannot continue as a member of government,” she told journalists.

“It was not until this week that the total amount spent on all this became clear to me. As a politician, it’s my job to take responsibility,” she said.

Finland’s Prime Minister Sanna Marin accepted the resignation, saying on Twitter: “I support Katri’s decision, which was certainly a difficult one.”

The 32-year-old Lapland MP remains the leader of the Centre Party, which traditionally represents Finland’s rural areas.

What was the money spent on?

Ms Kulmuni’s resignation comes after the magazine Suomen Kuvalehti (SK) published details of media and performance coaching she had received since becoming Centre Party leader in September.

According to SK, communications agency Tekir Oy invoiced the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment and the Ministry of Finance for €56,203 (£50,100) accrued over the course of approximately six months.

Of that, €6,324 was allegedly spent on 3 December, the day Mr Rinne resigned after Ms Kulmuni’s party announced it had lost confidence in him.

The magazine also alleged that Ms Kulmuni received one-on-one “sparring”, ie interview and debate coaching, from the company’s chairman, Harri Saukkomaa, at an hourly rate of €700, excluding VAT.

Mr Saukkomaa told Finnish tabloid Iltalehti: “I can’t comment on individual customers. During the past 12 years we have had various politicians as customers, although a rather small number.”

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