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The byproducts of fear

Eva Joly’s recent demands concerning the investigation into Iceland’s bank collapse have garnered a mixed reception here on the rock. While an overwhelming majority appears to support her and sees the eminent logic in her arguments, there are others who are not as convinced.

One criticism concerns her going directly to the media and stating her views, as opposed to first voicing her concerns to the government in private. Mme Joly addressed this question in the Kastljós interview, saying that, in her view, it was the Icelandic people who pushed for her to be hired, so in effect she was voicing her concerns to those who hired her and in that way [I presume] putting pressure on the government.

Personally I think it’s a brilliant strategy. Knowing what I know about doing business with the Icelanders [as many readers will be able to relate to] she probably figured that if she tried to go the normal route – making phone calls that might not be returned, or writing emails that probably would not be returned – it might be well into the next decade before anything got done.

Contrast this with the first time she gave a comprehensive interview on State TV [Silfur Egils]. Right after the interview there was an intense and immediate public response [as outlined in the intro to the last post], with the accompanying swift reaction by the bureaucrats. – Which option sounds more sensible to you?

However, this is a mere sneeze in comparison to a blog post by one Sigurður G. Guðjónsson, who clearly has a bone to pick with Mme Joly and her involvement in the Icelandic investigation. With sarcasm dripping he dubs her “Iceland’s new goddess of justice” and claims that, to her [Joly’s] mind, every Icelandic útrásarvíkingar [Icelandic entrepreneurs who operated abroad] is guilty of a host of white-collar crimes. [How he arrived at this conclusion is beyond me.] He concludes his tirade by asking: “Is the Minister of Justice prepared to shoulder responsibility for Joly’s deeds and actions when the vendetta mindset that she and her Icelandic followers are propagating has evaporated?”

A loaded question. But considering that it is being posed by a man who acted as an attorney for some of the more prominent útrásarvíkingar – Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson and the Baugur clan, to be precise – it sort of falls flat. Not to mention that he was allegedly the main orchestrator of a rather crafty transaction by the former CEO of Landsbanki that has recently come to light, in which he [the CEO] took a loan out his own pension payments in order to avoid paying some ISK 14 million in income tax.

So it is surprising that Mr. Guðjónsson is pulling out all the stops to discredit Mme Joly?

Some things are just too transparent. Fortunately Eva Joly seems to have the force of character to take on these sorts of players without flinching. Which is precisely why we need her here.

[No Iceland Weather Report for a few days as I am currently sojourning in Berlin. But have laptop, so there will be posts!]



Comments on this entry are closed.

  • hildigunnur June 15, 2009, 12:01 am

    haha, I was just commenting on the “coincidence” of the transactions coming to light – from an unnamed source – just when that lawyer writes this vitriolic article on Pressan. Not that I’m unhappy about it, not at all!

    Planning to be in place tomorrow, protesting the State Prosecutioner’s still being in office, if he hasn’t resigned, that is.

  • Gunnar D June 15, 2009, 6:56 am
  • Ljósmynd DE June 15, 2009, 7:36 am

    There is another comment on this issue on


    Apart from avoiding to pay income taxes I found it remarkable, that it should be possible in Iceland to withdraw money from a pension fund claiming to “own” it. I would have expected that a pension fund is supposed to cater to all of its depositors equally and that the fund assets are out of reach for its executives. This one looks quite like the old banks excessively lending to their owners.

    Hope, you enjoy Berlin. You might have brought Eva Joly along, as we would have use for her in Germany as well. There might be some findings surrounding the insolvency of one of our big chain of department stores in connection with inflated lease payments. And the Sheik of Qatar Al Thani of Kaupthing fame supposedly buying a 25% share in Porsche through one of his investment funds is just like a feeling of déjà vu.

  • Robert Culfield June 15, 2009, 8:54 am

    She is obviously on the right track when you have clowns like Sigurður G. Guðjónsson complaining.

  • Lee June 15, 2009, 9:10 am

    If there’s controversy in Iceland about just removing an obviously disqualified prosecutor, imagine what it’ll be like when the many criminal trials are eventually being held…

  • alda June 15, 2009, 10:05 am

    LDE – it’s not the actual pension fund but the optional payments you can make – where your employer makes an equal contribution, and it is tax-free. Anyone have the English term handy?
    But still, it’s nuts, and according to the news today the FSA has been informed.

    Lee – indeed. Expect all hell to break loose.

  • Alexander E. June 15, 2009, 11:14 am

    It’s up to Eva Joly to talk to anyone she feels appropriate. From a drifter to the God and everyone in between.
    It’s was people of Iceland that “hired” the government and as such – hired Eva Joly.
    So if Eva Joly decided to talk directly to those who hired her this means only one thing – people of Iceland should fire that useless (as best) government.

    PS. I understand some people in the government are mad at her now. But this is their problem.

    PS. Don’t worry about the weather in Iceland, Alda. It is as usual 🙂

  • Stan June 15, 2009, 12:58 pm

    Alda wrote: “Knowing what I know about doing business with the Icelanders [as many readers will be able to relate to] she probably figured that if she tried to go the normal route – making phone calls that might not be returned, or writing emails that probably would not be returned – it might be well into the next decade before anything got done.”

    I am one of those readers who can relate to this experience. I think it must be addressed as a very serious and important problem if Iceland wants to trade with other countries and dig itself out of the Kreppa mess. It has been, from my perspective of having tried to work collaboratively with Icelanders, one of the ugliest aspects of Sturlung culture. Unless you are there and part of a klíka nothing gets done.

    I’ve wasted a lot of time and money learning that lesson. I’ve had to move on.

  • Sylvia June 15, 2009, 6:53 pm

    Have a great time in Berlin. Wish I had the resources to go there but was just laid off so will be spending my vacation time looking for work.

  • roughdoggo June 19, 2009, 12:13 am

    There is something deeply disturbing about Ms Joly’s holier-than-thou stances. I, for one, am beginning to get tired of this self-promoting gloryhound, who markets herself under the pose of being a latter-day Joan of Arc.

    My former initial admiration of her turned into a more critical view, once I became acquainted with her morally dubious privileged status as a citizen of both France and Norway.

    Norway, (her home country, of which she is still a citizen) has a rule that, in general, does not allow its citizens to hold two passports. This, in spite of a clear European trend that goes in the direction of permitting dual or even triple citizenship. One may note that this rule is not necessarily applied in the case of those third-world immigrants whose countries of origin have declared citizenship to be inalienable from birth.

    On the other hand, aliens of the developed world who live in Norway are technically not allowed dual citizenship – the authories are adamant regarding this, no matter how much it puts a person to disadvantage.

    For example, an American renouncing his or her citizenship in order to gain a Norwegian passport is automatically viewed as a tax-dodger by the U.S., and is listed as an undesirable for the first ten years after US citizenship is renounced. Obviously, in this case, should one want or need Norwegian citizenship, it would be advantageous to have dual passports, but on this, Norwegian authorities will not bend. It’s Norwegian or nothing.

    However, from my own experience, I know a number of ethnic Norwegians who hold both American and Norwegian passports. These individuals, having gained an American passport by migrating, marrying in, etc., simply neglect to tell Norwegian authorities that they are picking up an extra passport during longer stays abroad. And the authorities involved, with whom I have spoken about the subject, are well aware of this, and seldom (if ever) strain themselves to insure adherence to the law by these prodigal sons and daughters when such return to the Auld Sod for good.

    In other words, the Norwegian single-citizenship rule is in the main applied to citizens of western nations, not Norwegians, and is discriminatory as such.

    Now, Ms Joly is one of those lucky individuals who has picked up dual citizenship during a long stay in France. In spite of the Norwegian rule, she has determinedly clung to both passports, and in fact was recently elected to the EU Parliament on a French ticket, by virtue of her French citizenship. She makes no secret of this privileged status; her attitude seems to be one of “in-your-face” regarding the aberration.

    That this is a matter of little concern to her points strongly in the direction of her considering herself in certain situations to be above the law. Rules that apply to others, need not apply to her. This hubristic attitude is something one would not expect in a person who is dedicated – on paper – to righting the world’s wrongs. Or is it everyone else’s wrongs?

    One would have thought that given her high profile as a squeaky-clean crusader against corruption, Joly would take steps to ensure that she was above any suspicion. However, her questionable retention of dual citizenship, which marks her as a member of a privileged ruling class, does not seem to bother her. (There is no formal process in Norway for obtaining approval of dual citizenship as far I have been able to determine. Queries on my part were stonewalled; whatever process is involved – if any – seems to be ad hoc.) Evidently, Joly’s prominence and political usefulness has resulted in someone’s protecting hand being held over her, allowing her – as the darling and croney of the ruling Norwegian elite – to forego the restrictions imposed on ordinary mortals.)

    Icelanders, you people who chose to live on top of a volcano rather than under a king, you will definitely have your hands full with the hypocrite you hoped would clean things up, once the cards fall into place.

  • alda June 19, 2009, 9:06 am

    roughdoggo (or whatever your name is) – personally I don’t see why we should have our “hands full” – we’ve hired Eva Joly to do a job for which she has a proven track record. Period.