Steel maker Outokumpu denies money-laundering in court

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Five employees of Finnish stainless steel maker Outokumpu went on trial Tuesday in the southern city of Kouvola for money-laundering, a charge the company denied.

"Outokumpu states that neither the Group nor its personnel have committed the alleged offence," the company said in a statement.

According to court documents obtained by AFP, five regional managers and employees of Outokumpu's Stainless Steel division are accused of "aggravated money-laundering or secondary negligent money-laundering" in their dealings with Russian customers.

Prosecutors are demanding suspended prison sentences for the defendants and a corporate fine of 300,000 euros (427,000 dollars) for Outokumpu.

"The prosecutor, on behalf of the state, has also presented a claim for the forfeiture of the funds subject to money laundering," Outokumpu said. According to the prosecutor, the claim could range between 69,000 and 13 million euros.

In addition, two employees of Outokumpu's forwarding company Saimaa Lines Ltd are charged with forgery related to the Russian deals.

The Kouvola court said that arguments will be heard in the case until mid-April, and a decision is expected in June.

© 2011 AFP

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