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Scrutiny over Finnish firm’s ties to Xayaburi

Scrutiny over Finnish firm’s ties to Xayaburi

The Finnish government will investigate multinational consulting and engineering firm Pöyry over its involvement in Laos’s Xayaburi dam project, a letter obtained by the Post yesterday reveals.

According to the letter from Finland’s Ministry of Employment and the Economy, dated October 16, a complaint filed by 15 NGOs in June “requires further consideration and . . . will be examined”.

The complaint alleges the Pöyry group, based in Finland, contravened that nation’s responsible business standards – and wasted public funds – by undertaking consulting work that supported the proposed hydro-electric dam project on the Mekong River, despite it being opposed by Cambodia and Vietnam.

“According to the [complaint] . . . Pöyry should have contacted the Mekong Commission prior to carrying out the actual work to establish the commitments made by Lao PDR under the Mekong Agreement of 1995,” the letter states.

Under that agreement, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam must agree to hydro projects on the Lower Mekong.

Cambodia has been a vocal opponent of the Xayaburi dam because of its potential and unaddressed impacts on the Kingdom’s fishing and agricultural communities.

Pöyry has been criticised for concluding in a report commissioned by Laos last year that Xayaburi was “principally in compliance” with Mekong River Commission requirements.

Environmental groups say Laos has used the report to justify proceeding with the project, despite no agreement from Cambodia or Vietnam.

Otto Bruun, campaign manager at Finland’s Siemenpuu Foundation, one of the complainants, said Poyry had encouraged movement on Xayaburi, despite concerns that the project’s impacts had not been fully studied.

“This is a part of a larger pattern of unethical behaviour in Pöyry’s overseas operations,” Bruun said.

Finnish Labour Minister Lauri Ihalainen, whose name is on the letter, could not be reached for comment. Pöyry did not immediately respond to emailed questions from the Post.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shane Worrell at [email protected]

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