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Doddsson hauls out the ammunition

So, old Davíð Oddsson – key player in Iceland’s economic collapse, Prime Minister for 13 years, Central Bank director preceding the meltdown, currently editor-in-chief of Morgunblaðið – appears to be preparing the groundwork for his defense in anticipation of the Black Report.

As I’ve stated repeatedly, I no longer read Morgunblaðið [well, except when it’s the only thing available in some waiting room somewhere], so I have this via Sigurjón Egilsson.

In today’s Mbl editorial, Doddsson dwells on the upcoming Black Report, which in his opinion will allow those who were most responsible to get off scot-free. The big fish will escape, while the small fry [presumably like himself] will get slammed.

Doddsson writes:

The courts couldn’t handle the Baugur Affair* a few years ago, and there is little doubt that that ruling led to unscrupulous money makers believing they could do anything. The law was for the little people. They were above the law. This is one of the reasons why things turned out as they did.

[…]

The investigators are showing their finest tricks these days. But among the people there is a nagging doubt. Will anything really come out of this? Sure, probably some who never walked tall through the halls of corruption will be made to feel the heat. But the big fish? Let us not expect too much.

This is Davíð Oddsson at his finest – deflecting blame onto everyone else to keep the focus off himself, sowing the seeds of suspicion, mistrust and confusion. Stirring up the silt to muddy the water.

It is true that the Baugur Affair was a colossal mess, and it is not unlikely that the Icelandic courts handed out acquittals because they couldn’t come to grip with the endless intricacies of the case. [God knows that the normal Icelander had ceased to understand even a fraction by the time it came to its drawn-out, dismal conclusion.] It is also possible that they were no match for the army of lawyers Baugur had at its disposal. Indeed, Eva Joly has said that, when courts don’t understand the full extent of the crimes – as very often happens with cases of extensive corruption, the sorts of cases in which Ms Joly is an expert – they tend to acquit. Precisely for that reason she has stressed the vital importance of investigating the Icelandic collapse carefully and thoroughly, using the most skilled specialists.

HOWEVER, for Doddsson to use this to further his own agenda, to create a smoke-screen of mistrust and disorientation, is typical — and very distasteful.

* The Baugur Affair was a long-drawn out court case involving the Icelandic state against Baugur Group [especially Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson and his father Jóhannes Jónsson]. It was the most expensive case ever in Iceland, and resulted in only minor convictions after years of proceedings. It was widely thought to be a manifestation of Davíð Oddsson’s personal vendetta against Jón Ásgeir and Jóhannes. I wrote about the Baugur Affair here and here and here and here.

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  • kevin o'connor waterford Ireland January 29, 2010, 1:59 pm

    The guy probably believes himself,witness him staying in Iceland as opposed to some slinking off to parts foreign which I believed you mentioned in a previous post Alda, In fact the first post I ever read from you after I blundered onto your site via Iceland Review on the 23rd October 2008 scary its now 2010. A bit off topic but your President is cool not only can he stand up for Iceland he can stand up for Ireland as well 🙂

    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/frontpage/2010/0129/1224263357589.html

    Davos summit where them that decide the future of us peasantry meet for a big talkfest.

  • Joerg January 29, 2010, 2:31 pm

    This rant of Doddsson sounds like an accolade for the Black Report.

    When politicians claim to be on the side of “litte people” against the “big fish”, it’s advisable to be extremely wary. Particularly, if this is coming from a former prime minister / foreign minister / central bank govenor and member of the Independent Party, which ruled the country for decades.

    But I have learned that Icelandic politicians rarely take the responsibility for their actions. So, it will certainly not be different here. As so many people have got their hands dirty, it’s easy to shift the blame to somewhere else – or accuse the investigator of being biased.

  • sylvia hikins January 29, 2010, 3:55 pm

    Doddsson is entitled to his opinion even if he does use/abuse his position to get it published. But that’s all it is..opinion. What will nail him and the rest is evidence supported by documentation. I’ve just been watching Tony Blair being cross-examined at the Chilcott Enquiry. More opinions, or as Blair callls them, ‘jusdgements’. We need documents (at present not out for public scrutiny) to prove once and for all who is lying and who is not. I hope some public watchdog in Iceland is making sure nothing is shredded or goes missing.
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • sylvia hikins January 29, 2010, 3:57 pm

    oops, spelling error…Blair, should read ‘judgements’.

  • Andrew (the other one) January 29, 2010, 4:18 pm

    Well the joke is in extremely poor taste I agree.

    I was amused by the President’s comment

    “There is a limit to how much you can ask taxpayers to pay due to irresponsible, greedy and risky operations by bankers in a foreign country,”

    Now how do you think British taxpayers like having to cover for a dodgy Icelandic bank?

    Clearly there is need for major reform of the entire international banking and financial system, which inevitably will cost us taxpayers; but we could spread the pain around a bit. I’d like to see the British government write off the Icesave money as a goodwill gesture.

    I also hope that Ireland gets out of the mire soon too. When I was working in Germany, all of my Irish friends had practically given up hope of working in Ireland (this was late ’80’s). It was nice for them to be able to go back when the economy took off.

    Kevin: how’s the situation at the moment in your part of the world?

  • Niamh January 29, 2010, 5:37 pm

    Re: Kevin
    WOW… O_O
    My respect for the President of Iceland just got bigger!!

  • James January 29, 2010, 7:30 pm

    If wonder if deCODE Genetics (before it went bankrupt…) compared the DNA of David Oddsson and Tony Blair to determine whether there’s a genetic component to lying, cheating, smarmy leadership.

  • Joerg January 29, 2010, 7:59 pm

    @kevin: The Icelandic President seems to be another example of a politician, who is currently playing the “greedy-bankers” card, trying to chum up with the “little people”. I am not aware, that he had opposed the privatization of the Icelandic banks or put up any laws about this to a referendum a couple of years ago. Therefore, this is a rather populist and not very credible attitude.

    As far as his complaint about British arrogance is concerned, he shouldn’t carry things too far. I remember his appearance on BBC, a couple of weeks ago, when he tried to lecture about direct democracy. And his infamous “You ain’t seen nothing yet”-speech is full of arrogance – and full of praise of the “Viking spirit” and applause for the “successful (Icelandic) entrepreneurs”. How times have changed…

  • kevin o'connor waterford Ireland January 29, 2010, 8:23 pm

    @Niamh yes real funny still he having a good life India one week,Switzerland the next
    @Andrew(the other one) Bad baby real bad unemployment at 12.8 % even worse than Iceland, our only saving grace is we dont have ICESAVE or a halved currency due to our membership of the € ,but we do have zombie banks bailed out by taxpayer cash,but thats internal unlike poor Iceland who has foreigners at the door.But Life has hope ie yesterday the new iPad I have just got to have one,I am a mac convert running OSX,and yes I have an iphone !!!

  • Cathal Dúr January 29, 2010, 8:27 pm

    The Irish Times also provided some background to the upcoming Icesave referendum in today’s business section. May be of interest: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2010/0129/1224263353979.html

  • kevin o'connor waterford Ireland January 29, 2010, 8:28 pm

    @Joerg yes probably some Agenda there playing to the gallery,and also perhaps something else as he seemed to keep Johanna kind of in the dark before he headed of to the BBC2 not being interviewed by local media

  • Andrew (the other one) January 29, 2010, 10:17 pm

    @Cathal

    A good article from the Irish Times.

    Maybe the president should tone down his anti British rhetoric a bit BEFORE going into negotiations. Also Icesave is only a quite small fraction of the Icelandic debt. The IMF and the Nordics also have a large stake in Iceland too.

    On the Irish economy; I hope you come out of recession soon. The best hope for a political settlement in Northern Ireland is to have a stable and prosperous Eire. Would sombody mind telling those idiots in the DUP to get back to negotiating a proper settlement.

  • icelandbob January 30, 2010, 11:12 am

    @Kevin O´Connor

    One thing that Ólafur Ragnar Grimsson (ORG) is is NOT cool. essentialy what he is doing now is a bit of a mini Doddsson by trying to rewrite history with his veto and coming across as a bit of a “father to the nation”.
    For a number of years in the run up to the Kreppa, ORG and his wife Dorrit (aka Eva Peron) were the bankers number 1 PR couple. If Kaupthing were opening an envelope, he would be there to give it a bit of Presidential “Zeal” to it. And of course this culminated in both the infamous “you ain´t seen nothing yet” speech (mentioned here on an earlier post), and the new year áramótaskaup 2009 which portrayed him as a lapdog to the bankers. Apparently he didn´t like that….
    Then when the crash did happen there was the infamous “Danish Embassy” incident where he turned round to all the diplomats there (including close “friend” Norway) and lambasted them for not giving Iceland money to help them, then turning to the Russian ambassador and simply saying “i´ll give you the entire US base at Kelfavik if you give us some money”. the Russian was un-surprisingly very surprised by this!
    Another thing to note is for a long time during the Kreppa, both ORG and his wife did a massive disappearing act. No leading the nation, no rousing speeched about how “the people of Iceland are soveriegn”. Zilch. Okay there was the Vanity Fair article but it didn´t inspire us all with confidence.
    Even after he did the veto and the Newsnight interview, he immediately left Iceland to jaunt to India to collect the Nehru award for “for their outstanding contribution to the promotion of international understanding, goodwill and friendship among peoples of the world”. You couldn´t make that up! Oh and he collected 7million ISK for that as well…

    Yup ORG is one cool guy!!