Recently there has been much discussion in Icelandic society as to whether or not authorities should purchase a list of people who have money in foreign tax havens. The list is similar to the one that German authorities (and others) have already bought (if not the same), which led to them recovering millions of euros in lost tax revenues.
The government has been humming and hawing over the matter, finding all sorts of things wrong with ponying up the funds for the list. At the same time public pressure has been growing, and they have been accused more and more of trying to spare their friends and cronies from being outed as tax evaders.
There is still another list, which a hacker managed to get a hold of, which revealed that the bank HSBC has helped rich and powerful clients evade taxes. This news broke a week or so ago – you may have heard of it, as there were many well-known individuals on the list.
Here in Iceland, we learned that there were six entities linked to Iceland on the HSBC list. Yesterday, RÚV had an interview with Eva Joly, renowned corruption hunter, European Parliament MP and friend of Iceland, who acted as an advisor to the Special Prosecutor immediately after the economic meltdown. In the interview, which was about the recent conviction of four Icelandic bankers, she informed RÚV that she had been in touch with the man who leaked the HSBC list and asked him if he would be willing to help the Icelandic nation by handing over information about the Icelanders, free of charge. He agreed, and the Director of Tax Investigations has said that she will be in touch with him.
And now we are all waiting with bated breath with news of who the folks who are on that list.
I must say that I am fascinated by the overarching picture of what is happening with respect to these matters – the transfer of wealth from the poor and middle-class to the wealthy, who stash it away in tax havens, so that the costs of maintaining a society is increasingly placed on the shoulders of the middle class. And now, the hackers, who are the White Knights of our time, working to expose this evil force and bring it to the light. Here is hoping for more and more justice and equality, even if we have to take two steps forward – one step back.
Here is a link to an interview I did with Eva Joly a few years ago, when the investigation into the Icelandic bank collapse was beginning.