Friday, April 8, 2016

Law Change Lets Iceland Bankers Out of Jail Early, Just Before Panama Papers Were Released

Within days of the Panama Papers being released and the resignation of Iceland's prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, three bankers who were jailed for involvement in the 2008 financial crisis were released. 

Gunnlaugsson was forced to resign, or temporarily give up the Prime Minister role, partially due to the largest protests in Iceland's history taking place after the release of the Panama Papers on Sunday.

The bankers, Sigurdur Einarsson, Olafur Olafsson, Magnus Gudmundsson, were released from a low-security prison yesterday. The reason provided was the passage of a new law that was rushed through Iceland's parliament in March. 

Here's how it was described by Icelandic Review,
“The parliamentary bill was changed in committee to allow five days of electronic monitoring for every month of a prisoner’s sentence, instead of 2.5 days as it has been. This means that a prisoner sentenced to one year in prison can now spend the last 60 days electronically tagged and in the community, instead of 30 days. The rule change means criminals can now be released earlier from prison.”
The bankers in question only served one of five years of their sentence, which begs the question, why were they released?

The above-quoted change in policy would only account for an additional 30 days of early release. Yet they had over four years left to serve in their jail sentence . Clearly the response provided by Icelandic Review is dubious.

Given Iceland is the only nation to jail bankers for the 2008 financial crisis, one wonder's, if the Panama Papers leak was a covert attack. The policy change coinciding with the leak may also suggest some kind of power shift is taking place in Iceland. 

No doubt more events will emerge as time goes on.

Related The Panama Papers Largest Leak in History | Propaganda, Preparation for Mass Arrests or Evidence of Silent Cold War?
- Justin

Source - Zero Hedge

Days After Iceland's PM Resigns Over "Panama Papers", Its Bankers Are Released From Jail Years Early

By Tyler Durden 

How very ironic.
Over the weekend, just hours before the Panama Papers were released, we wrote a post that took "A Look Inside Iceland's Kviabryggja Prison: The One Place Where Criminal Bankers Face Consequences."
And then, minutes later, the Panama Papers were disclosed by the ICIJ, which had a clear target: to "expose" the "circle of friends close to Putin", and of course, to reveal the dirty laundry of the Iceland Prime Minister, who resigned just two days after his shady offshore tax dealing were revealed to the world.
There was some "conspiratorial" speculation whether the explicit hit on ex-PM Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was precisely due to Iceland's crackdown on the country's criminal bankers. As a reminder, Iceland is the only nation that sent bankers found guilty of crimes resulting from the financial crisis, to prison.
It turns out there may have been something valid in said speculation, because moments ago, Iceland Monitor reported that three bankers from the defunct Iceland bank Kaupthing are to be released from jail today – after serving just one year of their 5-year sentences.
Magnús Guðmundsson, Ólafur Ólafsson and Sigurður Einarsson were one of four men jailed in 2015 in the so-called ‘Al-Thani case’ on charges of breach of trust and market abuse.
Sigurður Einarsson, former chairman at Kaupþing, received a sentence of four years, while Magnús Guðmundsson, former CEO of Kaupthing Luxembourg, and Ólafur Ólafsson, who was the bank’s second largest shareholder at the time, both received a sentence of four and a half years.
They will be taken to a halfway house today, where they will be fitted with ankle tags and released under electronic supervision.
Hreiðar Már Sig­urðsson , Sig­urður Ein­ars­son and Magnús Guðmunds­son.
* * *
Case closed, but the question lingers: is the Panama Papers merely a warning to anyone in government who dares to put bankers in prison to make sure that their own financial documents are in pristine condition, or else?

New Iceland law allows jailed bankers to walk free amid Panama Papers scandal

Three top figures from Iceland’s failed Kaupthing Bank have been released from jail after barely serving a quarter of their sentences due to a new law. It comes as Iceland deals with a fresh scandal linking the ex-PM to both the Panama offshore revelations and the bank.

Former chairman of Kaupthing, Sigurdur Einarsson, its biggest shareholder, Olafur Olafsson, and the finance director of the Luxembourg branch, Magnus Gudmundsson, were released from the low-security Kviabryggju prison on Thursday.

The bankers have served just one year of their four-to-five year sentences. All were convicted of financial fraud ahead of the collapse of the country's biggest bank in October 2008.

The bankers were accused of concealing an investor from Qatar who bought a 5.1 percent equity stake in Kaupthing, with the money illegally provided as a loan from the bank itself.

The release was made possible due to a new law which was rushed through a parliamentary vote in March.

The law enables prisoners to spend double the amount of time under electronic surveillance in the comfort of their own homes than previously had been allowed, while being released earlier from jail.

The Icelandic Review explained the new law further:

“The parliamentary bill was changed in committee to allow five days of electronic monitoring for every month of a prisoner’s sentence, instead of 2.5 days as it has been. This means that a prisoner sentenced to one year in prison can now spend the last 60 days electronically tagged and in the community, instead of 30 days. The rule change means criminals can now be released earlier from prison.”

Icelandic media reports question why the new bill was passed so quickly. Some claimed that the chair of the Alþingi General Committee and MP for the Independence Party, Unnur Brá Konráðsdóttir, was responsible for the bill.

Left Green MP Bjarkey Olsen Gunnarsdóttir alleged to Iceland’s Stundin newspaper that the change in the law seemed to be made specifically for the three bankers, adding that rushing it through seemed inappropriate during this time.

Iceland has been dealing with a new financial scandal, after the Panama Papers leak revealed information that former Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson allegedly failed to declare his stake in an offshore company based in the British Virgin Islands to avoid paying taxes in Iceland. Local media also linked the offshore allegations to the Icelandic banking crisis, for which Kaupthing Bank managers were jailed, and in connection to which Gunnlaugsson had already been accused of taking a softer stance towards the bankers.

The Panama Papers were published on Sunday and are said to be“the largest leak in offshore history.” They claim to reveal the offshore holdings of over 100 international politicians and public officials, including 12 current and former world leaders.

The scandal escalated quickly in Iceland, with massive protests forcing Gunnlaugsson to resign on Tuesday, even though he denied violating the law. According to a Gallup poll conducted ahead of Gunnlaugsson’s resignation, a whopping 81 percent of Icelanders wanted the PM to resign.

The Icelandic center-right coalition appointed Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, the deputy chairman of the disgraced former PM, as the country’s new prime minister and scheduled early elections for the fall.


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