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Three ex-Patria executives charged over Croatia bribes: prosecutors

HELSINKI (Reuters) - Prosecutors in Finland said on Friday they would charge three former executives of defense group Patria with bribing government officials in Croatia.

The case is part of an international investigation into allegations that former executives of the Finnish company bribed foreign government officials in countries such as Croatia, Slovenia and Egypt to secure sales of its arms.

The prosecutor general's office said the three defendants, who were not named, paid 1.5 million euros ($1.95 million) in bribes in exchange for an armored vehicle deal in Croatia in 2007 worth over 50 million euros. It said the suspects had also promised and partly paid out bribes worth 5 percent of the deal.

The suspects have denied all charges, the prosecutor general's office said in a statement.

A court in Slovenia earlier this month sentenced former Prime Minister Janez Jansa to jail on a conviction of taking bribes from Patria. Related investigations continue in Croatia and Austria.

The Finnish government owns around 73 percent of Patria and European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) the rest. ($1 = 0.7691 euros)

(Reporting by Terhi Kinnunen; editing by Mark Heinrich)

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