Back in May, I wrote a post describing how the resolution committee of Glitnir bank had initiated court proceedings against Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, the bank’s former owner, and a handful of his associates. The legal claim is very blunt and to the point, and outright accuses JÁJ and his associates of strategically and systematically robbing the bank from the inside.
Indeed, this is one of the things that has caught the notice of the general public here in Iceland — how the foreign attorneys and judges don’t seem all codependent around JÁJ and his crew, in contrast to those in the Icelandic system, where there’s all this pussyfooting around and where people are afraid to call things by their proper names. There’s this instinctual denial and minimizing that is so deeply ingrained, as well as a fear of offending or alienating people.
This was once again brought into focus yesterday, when JÁJ attempted to have an international freezing order on all his assets overturned — and failed. The hearing was in London, and after listening to lawyers from both sides bickering about the freezing order, the British judge apparently remarked: “There is something unreal about this,” before launching into a rundown about how unbelievable JÁJ’s arguments were. He also expressed disbelief that JÁJ had, in fact, given a full disclosure of all his assets, like he had been ordered to do.
In short, the judge made mincemeat of JÁJ’s claims concerning the freezing order and moreover refused his request to hold the hearing behind closed doors — a request that had been made on the grounds that the Icelandic media would be all over it and that “sensitive and personal” information would be disclosed. Consequently Sigrún Davíðsdóttir, RÚV’s London correspondent, was there and today gives a comprehensive rundown of the proceedings on her blog [in English].
Meanwhile, JÁJ and his cronies are working overtime to try and get the proceedings moved from New York to Iceland — probably for the reasons stated above, i.e. they expect more lenient treatment from the Icelanders, who may or may not be codependent, and who almost certainly have a lot less experience with these kinds of cases than the NY magistrates. Their arguments have leaked to the media and, boy, some of them are pretty pathetic. One guy whines about his poor children who will miss their father if he has to spend long periods in NY for the proceedings [I’m sure they saw a WHOLE LOT of him when he was playing bigshot business mogul]; however, the best one is an argument they all give: that they’re not sufficiently proficient in the English language to get a fair trial. Ha! They’ve lived, worked and many of them studied in English-speaking countries, but suddenly they just … don’t … understand … English. Ya, right.