One of the best programmes in Iceland today is the current affairs programme Spegillinn [the mirror], broadcast on RÚV radio 1 after the evening news. And one of the very best reporters on Spegillinn is Sigrún Davíðsdóttir, RÚV’s London correspondent, who not only unearths the most amazing facts and figures and sides of the kreppa, but presents them in such a way that they are easy for normal people to understand.
Sigrún’s latest report is slightly different from most of her others. It is about whistleblowers, and Sigrún actually goes so far as to urge people in Iceland who may have information concerning the investigation into the Icelandic meltdown to blow the whistle. In her words, “The majority of fraud cases are exposed because someone blows the whistle, not as a result of investigations.”
She goes on to point out that with most white-collar crimes there are people who are, directly or indirectly, accessories to those crimes. Lawyers and accountants who process things, and normal office staff who often overhear – or see – what is going on.
What happened in Iceland in the past few years was not only a result of ineffective authorities, gullible politicians and greedy bankers. It also happened because some people were prepared to do favours for others without asking what, exactly, they were being asked to do. Others were prepared to do things without looking too closely at what was going on.
She goes on to suggest that, when it comes to indictments, the Office of the Special Investigator may look kindly upon those who volunteer information. She also – quite accurately – points out that getting things out into the open is the best hope for there to be some real change around here.
It has been said – and is fairly accurate – that around 30 people drove Iceland into the kreppa. But those actions were made possible because some people were prepared to do favours for their friends and acquaintances, like lend companies or front companies, or process cases without asking too much about what they were for. Those who were not instigators in such matters but do have information must face the fact that one day they will very likely be called for questioning. In such cases it is better to have volunteered information and having one’s potential guilt evaluated in relation to that information. This is far preferable to waiting to be arrested and taken in for questioning. If those people who know they assisted in shady dealings are able to step forward and tell their stories to the authorities then there is hope that things may finally change in Iceland.There is hope that the shady characters of the Icelandic business sector may lose their control over assets and the powers that accompany them. As one of Spegillinn’s sources remarked: Good people who do nothing can, in fact, be dangerous people.
Definitely food for thought.