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Parliamentary committee recommends indictments for ex-PM and others

Some pretty big news yesterday.

A parliamentary committee, appointed to recommend whether or not any public officials should be indicted as a result of their involvement in the economic collapse in 2008, delivered its findings yesterday afternoon. There had been a fair bit of tension beforehand, particularly as it was known that the committee — which was made up of representatives from all of the political parties — was heavily divided on the issue. Basically it was split in three, with each faction wanting to indict some or all of the names mentioned, with the exception of the Independence Party’s representatives, who wanted to indict no one [surprise surprise].

The way Icelandic politics are these days, with no one seemingly having the balls to do anything radical, I fully expected the final verdict to be: No one. That is why it was a bit of a surprise that the committee settled on indicting four individuals: Former PM Geir H. Haarde [IP], Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir [leader of the IP’s coalition partner at the time, the SDA], Árni M. Mathiesen [Minister of Finance for the IP] and Björgvin Sigurðsson [Minister of Business Affairs for the SDA].

The decision now goes to the parliament, which will vote on whether or not to indict any or all of those four people.

Predictably, the verdict is highly controversial. Personally I don’t have enough information to be able to form an enlightened opinion, at least not yet. Certainly I want people to be held accountable for their actions or non-actions [read: negligence], but OTOH I don’t know to what extent these four individuals actually were instrumental in causing the meltdown — the causes are so far-reaching and complex that it will certainly be difficult to determine who is responsible for what.

Meanwhile, it did not go unnoticed around here today that Morgunblather wrote about the verdict, named three of the individuals implicated, but made no mention of Geir H. Haarde. Clearly the rewriting of history is in full swing up there, under Davíð Oddsson’s* unfaltering leadership.

* Architect of the collapse, now editor of one of the country’s main newspapers. He and Geir Haarde were close collaborators in the IP and some say that DO actually ran the country behind the scenes, with GH as his puppet.

PS – Bloomberg has a pretty good report on this here.

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  • James September 13, 2010, 12:29 am

    Their lawyers will argue that their clients were not negligent, merely incompetent. Political negligence is notoriously hard to prove.

  • cargocultist September 13, 2010, 1:35 am

    Shouldn’t be that hard with the Minister of Finance.

    Just ask him if it was official government policy to increase the money supply by 10x from 2003-2008? If it was, then why was this not discussed openly. If it wasn’t, then why did he think it was increasing and what measures did he take to stop it?

    And if he doesn’t know that the money supply did increase by that much… that’d be pretty negligent too.

  • Kris September 13, 2010, 6:55 am

    I also think they are barking up the wrong tree. What is wrong with going after them for fraud, racketeering, embezzlement and corruption? Follow the money. I doubt any of these guys lifted a finger without a good healthy bribe. How are things going with the forensic accounting?
    These guys are really sneaky devils. Charging their friends with crimes that are impossible to convict while the real crimes go unpunished. But I guess it will make good entertainment.
    BTW what is the punishment for being a negligent politician? We have a few here in the US (Ha ha ha ha)

  • idunn September 13, 2010, 7:08 am

    Whether guilty or not, it would be convenient to pin the blame for the kreppa on former PM Geir H. Haarde and associates, as scapegoats, but dangerous if thinking that settles matters.

    For one thing, unless this leads elsewhere, someone such as Davíð Oddsson might be free to cause mischief again, and all the more able in controlling a key aspect of the press in Morgunblather.

    Then also, it might not be overlooked that a good many people in Iceland chose to turn a blind eye to some obvious warning signs when the economy was growing and everything was great. The foundation for that suffered now was laid then but few said anything, and most possibly still not if it hadn’t all collapsed . . . yet.

    That will hardly do. No matter the apportionment of personal responsibility to those then in power, something even less palatable is how a nation ever allowed them to do so in the first place. If that left unresolved, without some widespread soul-searching, then when next the darker side of human nature manifests itself, perhaps in Iceland’s environment being sold piecemeal to the highest bidders, then all may wonder again how it could ever have happened?

  • kevin oconnor waterford ireland September 13, 2010, 7:50 am

    Please Alda spare the life of Geir H. Haarde he is after all Norwegian citizen and therefore not able to be beheaded like wot you vikings did to irish monks back in 900 then wiz discovered the IRA and kicks you out of waterford like.The main thing like the cuts that are talked about down here with the brits and irish is that nothing has really happpened with icesave etc etc, the best suggestion I can make is you sentence him and the rest of his gang of four to devour a whole whale raw marinated in rotting sharks flesh topped with lots of skyr apparently its your national dish.

    Ps hows Landbanki coming on, own it and the rest and make “Loans” to friends and comrades in the IP who needs a gun upto a teller ha ha.

    PPs Geir seems a nice guy and is so reasonable.

  • kevin oconnor waterford ireland September 13, 2010, 8:02 am

    Sorry about my comments but after 2-3 years ever whatshername is finally getting to the heart of the matter.

  • Easy September 13, 2010, 11:36 am

    More bread and circus for the people.
    “summer is over, sun is leaving, people will get nervous, lets give them something that will keep them talking and distracted for a while”
    This is just one more smoke screen, nothing will be done to these people, dont decive yourselves, what happened with the guys they detaine a couple of months ago, even the interpol was” huntig one” of them, NOTHING, it was all a show.
    this is a very good article: http://www.economicdisasterarea.com/index.php/features/its-all-gone-fucking-fuck-in-iceland/

  • Alexander E. September 13, 2010, 1:05 pm

    Parliament will vote not to indict, of course. Otherwise they will have to indict themselves. Or how are they going to indict Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir without indicting “her” party and current PM?

    So this is just a farce.

  • Andrew September 13, 2010, 1:47 pm

    At least if they end up in court, Icelanders may find out what really happened. It should be a pleasing moment for you all! I wonder why DO hasn’t been fingered?

  • Pétur September 13, 2010, 4:07 pm

    MPs and ministers can only be prosecuted by Landsdómur – a special court that has never been convened in the history of the Republic of Iceland. See the law on Landsdómur here (in Icelandic): http://www.althingi.is/lagas/nuna/1963003.html

    I read somewhere that the reason DO and others haven’t been indicted is that the statute of limitations is only 2 years – thus, everything involving the privatization of the banks and related actions is off the table.

    The law on Landsdómur is also severely out of date and many experts say that any conviction by the Landsdómur court would be deemed a violation of Human Rights.

  • Bromley86 September 13, 2010, 5:10 pm

    >At least if they end up in court, Icelanders may find out what really happened

    Didn’t the Black report cover this all in sufficient detail? And then didn’t the Icelandic government decide not to prosecute people like the criminally ineffective financial regualtor?

  • Easy September 13, 2010, 5:49 pm

    Please people, they WON´t “end up in court”, take that idea out of your heads, it will simply not happen.
    This is just a proposal, but they put it out in the news, and look how much they have achived: “now we´ll se some justice”, “finally justice”, “some heads will roll”, “hope they will go to jail”; this is exactly the effect they wanted to create in people.

  • alda September 13, 2010, 6:03 pm

    Takk Pétur for your clear and balanced input. 🙂

  • James September 13, 2010, 8:14 pm

    Perhaps David Oddsson’s crimes are sufficiently heinous in nature that a statute of limitations shouldn’t apply! Or, more seriously, perhaps an Icelandic judge should suspend/re-start the time limit for banking collapse cases, eg due to their complexity.

  • sylvia hikins September 13, 2010, 8:31 pm

    Mr. Polly Peck came back to the UK after 17 years and much to his surprise, now faces criminal charges…so who knows what the future might hold!!!!!
    sylvia from viking wirral

  • Knute Rife September 13, 2010, 9:08 pm

    However little it is, it’s still more than is being done here in the US.

  • Simon Brooke September 14, 2010, 3:53 pm

    Thanks, Pétur. I’ve been reading this story thinking ‘how on earth can David Oddson not be indicted.’ If the stature of limitations really is that short, it should be amended – the bad guys may get off scott free this time, , but they should not next time (although lets hope htis never happens again).

  • Joe Jarrell September 19, 2010, 10:19 pm

    We in the USA have vast problems, and should not be giving out advice about how you could run your country, but I can’t resist. Iceland’s small population base should make your Country able to react faster to it’s problems, do you have the ability to impeach or recall a politician? If you do then why are you not using it, throw the bums out. I hold out hope that Iceland will be an example of how Government should work for the people, and not the other way round.