Iceland Has Hired A Professional To Hunt Down The Bankers That Wrecked It’s Economy and Bring Them To Justice
Hauksson’s job description:
“On one hand, we have to investigate all suspicion of fraud and offences committed before 2009, on the other hand, we bring the lawsuits against the suspects to court ourselves,” Hauksson explains. This is a ‘totally new’ method which allows the investigators to “follow the case” and the judicial system to “know the cases like the back of their hand”. This is indispensable in order “to compete with the well-prepared defence attorneys.”
He will track you down even if you’ve fled abroad:
“Searches continue and the team pursues its investigations abroad in the foreign subsidiaries of the Icelandic banks and includes questioning foreigners. We enjoy full international cooperation.”
To ease the prosecutor’s job, the government modified the laws on banking secrecy. “Today, we have access to all information with no objections possible,” claims Olafur Hauksson. Suspected bank fraud, swindles, professional identity theft, misuse of funds, the types of investigations are wide-ranging and the three – soon to be four – interview rooms are never empty. The prosecutor says he is currently working on “a hundred priority cases”.
Most of those targeted are former banking sector officials or were board members of banks before the crisis. These Icelanders have often opted to relocate abroad – to Luxembourg, for example – to further their careers. A dispersal that complicates the task of Hauksson’s team.
To date, some convictions have been achieved. Two former officials of the Byr bank, the first to be brought to trial, are now serving prison sentences of four and a half years. The former chief of staff to the finance minister at the time of the crisis, Baldur Gudlaugsson, was sentenced to two years in jail for insider trading. More recently, Sigurdur Einarsson, former CEO of the Baupthing Bank was sentenced to reimburse the bank 500 million Icelandic kronur – 3.2 million euros – and had his assets frozen.
Others are awaiting their day in court. Jon Thorsteinn Oddleifsson, former head of treasury at the Landsbanki, should soon discover his fate, as should Làrus Welding chief executive of the Glitnir Bank.