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In 2016, the Finnish tax authorities ordered public broadcaster YLE to hand over documents leaked from the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. Today, the Finnish Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) held that the Tax Administration had no right to demand YLE to hand over documents. Our Tax partner, Jouni Weckström represented YLE in this extremely interesting case, which will serve as a precedent in future disclosure obligation matters.
The so-called Panama Papers leak included more than 11 million documents. They were originally handed over to a German newspaper by an anonymous source.
Some 400 journalists from more than 100 media organizations in over 80 countries joined in analysing the data. As part of this unprecedented effort, two YLE reporters were given access to the documents. They found that a number of Finnish individuals and firms were involved in setting up and taking advantage of offshore tax havens.
The Finnish Tax Administration requested a full surrender of and access to all the related material held by YLE, but YLE denied. Even if the matter itself entailed a strong and clear context of weighing of the freedom of speech and the protection of journalistic source as constitutional rights against the obligation to surrender third party information, the SAC did not find a need to go that deep. In other words, the case was decided based on “just” tax procedural rules whereby a request for full surrender with no specified case to be assessed is not in accordance with the law.
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Our tax partner Mr Jouni Weckström represented successfully a company engaged in wind farming industry and issued Feed-in Tariff by the Finnish Energy Authority. In the claim made by the Finnish Tax Recipients’ Legal Services Unit it was insisted that the company had in fact committed to produce electricity against the State contributed Feed-in Tariff and therefore the Feed-in Tariff was to be seen as a counterpart to the sale of such service (to the Finnish Energy Authority). It was further claimed that the Feed-in Tariff received by the company should be considered a subsidy directly linked to the price of the electricity sold by the company. The subsidy should thereby, according to the claim, be treated as a consideration to be added to the VAT base of the sales by the company. The claim was dismissed yet the decision of the Helsinki Administrative Court can be appealed to the Supreme Administrative Court. The final decision will have definitive impact widely in the renewable energy sector and it will make an important precedent in outlining the scope of the VAT Act and the VAT Directive.
Waselius & Wist advised Sagax (listed on NASDAQ OMX Stockholm) in the structuring of the acquisition of a portfolio of 2 hypermarkets and 184 grocery stores. The properties are leased to S Group and Suomen Lähikauppa and the acquisition is conditional on the completion of the pending acquisition by Kesko Corporation of Suomen Lähikauppa.
Value: SEK 850,000,000
Waselius & Wist advised Hemsö Fastighets AB in the structuring of the acquisition of a portfolio of 15 healthcare and senior care properties from Trevian Care I Ky, a real estate equity fund managed by Trevian Asset Management Oy
Value: EUR 100,000,000
Waselius & Wist advised Hemsö Fastighets AB on the structuring of the acquisition of Turku University of Applied Sciences from Nordisk Renting Oy. The acquisition was Hemsö Fastighets AB’s first real estate investment into the Finnish market.
Value: EUR 35,000,000
Waselius & Wist represented Sagax (listed on NASDAQ OMX Stockholm) in three separate acquisitions of three real estates located in Helsinki, Finland.
Value: approximately EUR 17,000,000.
Waselius & Wist represents First State European Diversified Infrastructure Fund FCP-SIF, the European Infrastructure fund of First State Investments, in its acquisition of Digita Oy, Finland’s leading provider of broadcast tower infrastructure, from TDF Group, and related financing arrangements.