Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman: Valvira did not act illegally or incorrectly when submitting a request to investigate the importation of wine
On 10 March 2023, Maija Sakslin, Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman, issued a decision on a complaint filed against the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) regarding the importation of wine. The complainant requested the Parliamentary Ombudsman to investigate Valvira’s procedures in which Valvira submitted a request to investigate the importation of wine in 2020. Finnish Customs conducted a preliminary investigation as a result of the request to investigate and transferred the case to the prosecutor for the consideration of charges. However, the prosecutor decided not to bring charges. According to the complainant, the prosecutor’s decision showed that Valvira’s actions were arbitrary. In her decision, the Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman saw that there is no reason to suspect Valvira’s actions of having been illegal or incorrect.
Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman Sakslin stated that Valvira is the supervisory authority as laid down in the Alcohol Act. Valvira’s powers and tasks as the authority supervising the importation and sale of alcoholic beverages includes submitting a request to investigate to the preliminary investigation authority when sufficient grounds exist. According to the Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman, Valvira has extensive powers of discretion in assessing the relevance of a request to investigate. In her decision, the Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman stated that “the supervisory authority’s active approach in considering whether to submit a crime report is particularly important in such suspected criminal cases – as in this case – in which there is no injured party”.
According to the Act on the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health, Valvira is responsible for the guidance and supervision assigned to it in the Alcohol Act. The Alcohol Act sets several tasks for Valvira regarding licence management, supervision and guidance, including the supervision of importation.
The Deputy Parliamentary Ombudsman’s full decision (EOAK/2764/2022) can be requested by contacting the Office of the Parliamentary Ombudsman. Contact information is available on the website (oikeusasiamies.fi/en).
Jussi Holmalahti, Director, +358 295 209 500