From Iceland — Ministry of Finance Asked Icelandic Tycoons for Economic Advice

Ministry of Finance Asked Icelandic Tycoons for Economic Advice

Published November 10, 2010

E-mails released by the magazine DV show that the Ministry of Finance asked for the personal advice of Iceland’s millionaire set with regards to the marketing of state-run business.
In 2005 and 2006, the documents show, the Ministry of Finance’s Office of Accounting and Assets contacted director of Baugur Group Skarphéðinn Berg Steinarsson, director of Milestone Guðmundur Ólason, and Sjóvá director Þór Sigfússon. Both Skarphéðinn and Guðmundur had served on the Privatization Committee of the Ministry of Finance, and Þór was at one time director of the Ministry of Business.
One of the e-mails in question, addressed to all three businessmen and dated 27 January 2006, had attached to it a rough draft of a plan with regards to government involvement in private companies. The e-mail, sent by Office of Accounting and Assets manager Þórhallur Arason, reads in part:
“Hello gentlemen. It’s time for you business tycoons help us bureaucrats out with marketing state businesses. It would be nice if you could take the time to read over this document and give me some pointers. Some of you have received this in the previous iteration and are maybe getting bored of this, but the time has come to dot the i’s and get this going. And also me and Árni [Mathiesen, the Minister of Finance at the time] are working on a memo on the revival of a new order, possibly under the title ‘Simpler State Management’, and it would be good to get you in on that matter, too.”

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