Finland queries mystery Croatian nuclear investor over links with Russia

Finland is requesting more details about a mysterious Croatian company which is attempting to invest €150m into the construction of a €6bn nuclear power plant after Finnish media expressed suspicion over its links to Russia.

The construction of the plant had been put on hold as it had not met the requirement that 60% of the project's stakeholders be EU companies when a Croatian company called Migrit Solarna Energija issued a statement on Tuesday announcing that it had invested €150m, acquiring 9% of the plant and pushing it over the threshold.

Russian state-owned Rosatom nuclear agency owns 34% of the consortium building the plant, Fennovoima, and would also provide the plant's reactor. Rosatom retains a presence as a nuclear fuel supplier and a nuclear plant contractor in Europe, helping operate plants in Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Newsweek Europe recently reported on how Rosatom's international activities are playing a part in Russia's attempts to increase its influence and leverage across the world, including in Europe.

Finland's relationship with Russia has turned increasingly sour since the start of the Ukraine crisis, as earlier this week the country refused to allow the speaker of the lower house of Russian parliament, Sergey Naryshkin, to enter Finland. He was due to attend an event in Helsinki, but he is on an EU-wide blacklist for his support of the annexation of Crimea last year.

Now, Finland's Ministry for Employment and Economy is requesting that the Croatian company makes more details about its finances and management public, after Finnish media pointed to the company's annual turnover of just €200,000, and links with Russia.

The Croatian company claimed the investment in the plant, to be built in Hanhikivi, Finland, had been sanctioned by the "Finnish authorities". This was subsequently denied by the government, who requested that Migrit present more details about their company before the end of the week, Yle reports.

In a letter to the company, the minister for economic affairs, Olli Rehn asked Migrit to provide the 3 years of funding receipts and other details concerning the company's inner workings including the links of its key officials following suspicion in the Finnish press that the company has strong ties to Russia.

Finnish newspaper Aamulehti claims to have tracked down the company's headquarters to a residential block in Zagreb, and questions how Migrit managed to raise the €150m given its low turnover. The accepted price of €150m is also suspiciously low for a 9% of a project worth around €6bn.

Croatian daily Poslovni Dnevnik reported in 2012 that the Migrit company was founded by Russians, identifying Russian businessman Mikhail Zhukov as director while a report from the official site of the Croatian city of Orahovica from the same time seconds the newspaper's account.

Russian business daily Kommersant claims that Rosatom has attracted European investors to cover the threshold requirement in previous instances such as its attempt to build a nuclear power plant in northern Bulgaria near Belene in 2010. Finish contractor Fortnum, who were previously discussing a hydropower project with Russian state gas company Gazprom, reportedly backed the Belene plan as shareholders. Subsequent turmoil in the Bulgarian government saw the project frozen.

Neither Migrit nor Rosatom responded to requests for a comment from the media.