A Grapevine service announcement Pay attention: Eruption Pollution Likely To Hit Whole Country
Mag
Articles
Eva Joly: Iceland Should Be Proud Of Investigations

Eva Joly: Iceland Should Be Proud Of Investigations

Published November 13, 2012

Norwegian-French magistrate Eva Joly delivered a compelling speech at Harpa on October 19, covering everything from Iceland’s financial investigations post-crash to reaffirming her opinion that Iceland should join the EU.
Joly, who served as assistant to Iceland’s Special Prosecutor after the 2008 banking collapse, was invited to speak by the University of Iceland’s business department. It was her first trip to Iceland since 2010. “In two years time, so many positive things have happened,” Joly said. “The prosecutions have started and the legal system is strong enough to handle the cases.
There are a number of investigations being carried out by the Special Prosecutor’s Office, which was created in December 2008. For instance, charges have been brought against bankers at Glitnir Bank and Kaupthing.  
Iceland was also the first nation to bring charges against a former leader. In March, Iceland’s former Prime Minister, Geir Haarde, was charged with gross negligence related to the economic collapse. Haarde was eventually found guilty on one of four charges for not holding cabinet meetings on important issues, which was a minor offense that did not call for punishment.
Joly stressed that Icelanders should take pride in the investigations and that Iceland serves as a role model for other nations contemplating prosecutions. “You should be proud you invested in these investigations,” Joly said. “But, there needs to be patience; it’s only been three years since investigations began.”
The larger picture, however, is whether the culture in the banks that brought about the collapse has changed. Joly is pessimistic. “Nothing has changed in the morality; banks operate in the same way,” she said. “The greed issue is due to a loss of values; that money is the only value,” she said. “But, we not only lost our values; we lost the distinction between right and wrong. This is why the judiciary is so important. There are rules for banks and when they don’t follow the rules, they will be prosecuted. They should be prosecuted every time.”
Nations need to reconsider how they prosecute crime: “We are only prosecuting violent criminality, not environmental or economic criminality,” she said.
Fanning the EU flames
Joly was unapologetically pro-EU throughout her speech, even citing the recent Nobel Peace Prize the body was awarded. “Looking back at what Europe has achieved over 60 years…it brought peace and prosperity,” Joly said, amid snickers from the crowd.
During the Q&A session that followed her speech, discussion inevitably turned to whether Iceland should join the EU. Joly famously shocked many Icelanders when she said in 2010 that Iceland should join the European Union. “You are already living with the EU regulations because you are part of the EEA,” she said. “You are living them, but not negotiating as an EU member.”
Joly said that she does not believe that EU members would exploit Iceland’s resources. On the contrary, she said she believes joining the EU would give Iceland even greater bargaining power. As a member of the EU, Iceland could negotiate for the protection of their natural resources and fishing waters. “Selling off the public good is a scandal,” she said. “We don’t want to sell away the islands in Greece to rich oligarch Russians and we want your energy to stay Icelandic.”
Fielding a question on the distrust of Icelandic banks that lingers four years after the collapse, Joly urged caution: “As for small investors, you are the people being fooled all over the world. Life is built on trust, but you must choose whom to trust. You should invest in only what you understand.”

Some facts:
The office was created in December 2008 to investigate suspicions of criminal actions leading up to, and in the wake of the financial collapse. Eva Joly helped establish the office, serving as a special advisor for 18 months.
It’s headed by Ólafur Hauksson, who was previously the Akranes District Commissioner.
What has (and hasn’t) been accomplished in four years time:
• Charges were brought against former Prime Minister Geir Haarde. He was eventually found guilty of one of four charges, which did not bring a penalty.
• Charges were brought against Lárus Welding, the former CEO of now-defunct Glitnir Bank. Another banker at Glitnir, Guðmundur Hjaltason, was brought up on charges.
• Charges were brought against Kaupþing Bank executives Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson, Sigurður Einarsson, Ólafur Ólafsson and Magnús Guðmundsson. Hreiðar Már and Sigurður were charged for breach of trust and market abuse, and Magnús and Ólafur for being accomplice to both.
• The headquarters of investment firm Arðvis in Kópavogur were raided. Some of the company’s representatives were arrested and then released.
• Many of Iceland’s business leaders remain under scrutiny, including: Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson and Jóhannes Jónsson, the owners of the Baugur Group retail empire; Lýður Guðmundsson and Ágúst Guðmundsson, the frozen food investors who were in charge of Kaupthing; and Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson and Björgólfur Guðmundsson, the brewing and shipping executives who owned Landsbanki.



Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Independence Is Not A Disaster:

by

After decades of discussion on the political and economic details of a theoretically independent Scotland, the Scottish citizens finally face the vote that could bring this country into reality. The vote on the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill, asking “Should Scotland be an independent country?” will take place this Thursday, September 18, 2014. “We have a shared interest” As part of the discourse on their potential independence, Scottish political leaders are looking to the Nordic countries as models in developing their social and economic policies. In addition to potentially modelling welfare and taxation on Nordic systems, other involvement ranges from applying

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Funding Dries Up at the Library of Water

by

This year marks the first and only year since its opening in 2007 that VATNASAFN/LIBRARY OF WATER has been unable to fund a writer-in-residence. While one writer, American architect and poet Eric Ellingsen, used the free space this year, the position did not come with its usual stipend. This is due to a familiar story within arts communities in Iceland and abroad: a lack of funding. Housed in the building that was once Stykkishólmur’s public library, it was converted into a public art installation by American artist Roni Horn in 2007. The finished space includes three collections: a rubber flooring

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Didaskophilia

by

The Biophilia project has extended its tendrils into many unexpected areas. Its accompanying education outreach programme aims to encourage creativity, whilst using new technology as a gateway to science and music learning. This approach combines the use of cutting-edge apps based on Björk songs like “Virus,” “Crystalline” and “Moon,” with simple exercises designed to be engaging and fun, such as marking a balloon with dots and then blowing it up to illustrate the Big Bang. The education programme went on the road as part of the Biophilia city residencies—runs of three to ten shows that took place in cities like

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

News In Brief: Early September

by

Remember last issue when we complained that the Bárðarbunga volcano was a huge disappointment for not having the decency to erupt? Well, apparently the volcano gods read the Grapevine, because a huge fissure opened up in Holuhraun and began spewing forth some very photogenic magma. Icelanders were quick to ask the most important question: What are we going to name the new lava field when all is said and done? The jury’s still out on that one, but for now, this is proving to be the ideal volcanic situation: pretty lava, no airplane-choking ash clouds and no one hurt or

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

Why You Can’t Go See The Eruption

by

In the middle of the night on Saturday, August 16, an intense swarm of seismic activity began in the area of Bárðarbunga—one of many central volcanoes nobody can pronounce—under Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. Since that day, my co-workers and I at the Icelandic Meteorological Office (aka the IMO) have been working day and night to monitor the activity, holding daily meetings with the Civil Protection services, and trying to figure out the possible outcomes of these events, which might just be the start of something a lot bigger. When the activity began, it was incredible how we could follow the

Mag
Articles
<?php the_title(); ?>

A Volcano Bigger Than Timberlake

by

The most prominent, truly devastating volcanic eruption in Icelanders’ public memory is arguably the late-18th century eruption in the volcanic ridge Lakí, followed by the Móðuharðindi, two years of all-over brutal hardships. The sky went dark, and the sun faded, while ashes destroyed pastures, and temperatures sank, leading to the death of an estimated 75% of the country’s livestock and a fifth of its human population. Then there was the late-19th century eruption, after which a fifth of the island’s populace moved to Canada. The ashes from the sudden 1973 eruption in the Vestmannaeyjar archipelago destroyed 400 homes. One person

Show Me More!