Increasing Number of Minors Taking Paid Employment

An increasing number of minors are taking on paid employment, RÚV reports. In 2011, just under 56% of 17-year-olds were on the job market, as compared to 68% of 17-year-olds in 2018.

These new statistics, furnished by Statistics Iceland and derived from tax data, were discussed on Thursday at a conference organized by the Ombudsman for Children and the Administration of Occupational Safety and Health. It was shown that the economic crisis had slowed down minors’ employment rate, but it has since increased steadily. Icelandic minors start working at noticeable rates at the age of 13 and their employment rate steadily increases with every year.

Thirteen percent of 13-year-olds are in paid employment, as compared to 21% of 14-year-olds, 45% of 15-year-olds, and 59% of 16-year-olds. Most minors aged 14 to 17 are employed in the wholesale and retail sectors, or in restaurants or hotels.

Herring Infection Worsens

A considerable number of the herring catch that’s been landed in recent days has been found to be infected, RÚV reports. As such, almost all of it will be incinerated. The infection has plagued Iceland’s summer-spawning herring on and off for the last decade.

Four fishing companies have sent ships to fish in waters west of Iceland and have then landed their herring catch at Vopnafjörður and Neskaupstaður in Northeast Iceland, Hornafjörður in Southeast Iceland, as well as in the Westman Islands. At three of four locations, the majority of the herring catch had to be incinerated. At Hornafjörður, however, it was actually possible to process and freeze a good portion of the catch. The rate of infection seems then to depend on where the fish has been caught.

“Unfortunately, this is what we feared after the last expeditions that went out last winter,” remarked Þorsteinn Sigurðsson, the head of the Peleagic Division of the Marine and Freshwater Institute. “We saw how high the rate of infection was in all of the cohorts we’d tracked. So this is unfortunately consistent with the projections we had.”

At first, the infection was only in older herring cohorts, while the younger cohorts remained healthy. This gave observers the hope that the infection would eventually disappear, and for a time, it did decline. But in the last two years, the infection has been detected in younger herring cohorts and the situation is now worsening again.

Private Bathing and Changing Facilities Coming Soon to Reykjavík Pools

sundhöll

Private changing and bathing stalls will soon be installed at all pools in Reykjavík to better serve those pool visitors who cannot or do not wish to change or bathe in front of other people, RÚV reports. There are currently shower stalls with privacy curtains and private changing lockers in all of the city’s pools.

“The private rooms are naturally intended for people with disabilities, for those who need assistance, and also for those who want to be private and maybe come from cultures in which they don’t want to be naked amongst other people,” says Steinþór Einarsson, the City of Reykjavík’s office manager in the Department of Sports and Recreation. The private facilities are also intended to cater to individuals whose religious beliefs may require more modest or private changing areas.

Pool employees have been instructed now on how to introduce Iceland’s pool culture and bathing rules to those who are visiting for the first time. “We give them a little brochure which has all the information in it – how you’re supposed to comport yourself.” But while concessions are being made, perhaps, to pool visitors’ varying accessibility requirements, restrictions, and levels of comfort with public showers, Steinþór says that ultimately, the bathing rules must be adhered to.

“These are our rules…and of course, all Icelandic guests that come to the pool must never let it slide if someone isn’t following the rules. In reality, everyone must act as bathing monitors, as pool monitors.”

Former Kaupþing Bank CEO Convicted of Insider Fraud

Judge's gavel

Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson, the former CEO of Kaupþing Bank, was convicted in Reykjavík District Court today for insider fraud, Kjarninn reports. Namely, he was found guilty of selling his shares in the bank to his own company. This is Hreiðar Már’s third conviction related to financial crimes during his tenure at Kaupþing, for which he has, thus far, earned a cumulative sentence of seven years in prison.

Per the findings of the court, Hreiðar Már bought shares in Kaupþing for ISK 246 million ($2m/€1.8m) on August 6, 2008. That same day, a private limited company in his ownership purchased the shares for ISK 572 million ($4.7m/€4.1m), funded by a loan that the company had received from Kaupþing. The resulting “profit” – a difference of ISK 326 million – was then transferred to Hreiðar Már’s personal bank account later that month. The loan taken by the private limited company was supposed to be paid back in 2011, however, by then, Iceland’s banks – including Kaupþing – had long-since crashed and the company had gone bankrupt.

The indictment against Hreiðar Már made a particular point of emphasising that when this sale took place, stock prices in Iceland were dropping rapidly. Iceland’s banking crisis is typically dated to October 6, 2008, the day that Former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde notified the nation of the gravity of Iceland’s financial situation in a televised address. Over the next few days, Iceland’s banks crashed one by one.

Hreiður Már was tried in this fraud case alongside Guðný Arna Sveinsdóttir, Kaupþing’s former chief financial officer. Guðný Arna was charged with participating in the commission of the crime, such as instructing lower-level employees on the settlement of securities transactions and loan distribution to Hreiðar Már’s company. However, Guðný Arna was acquitted of all charges in this matter.

Prosecutor Finnur Þór Vilhjálmsson requested that the court levy an additional sentence of 12 to 15 months against Hreiðar Már for this fraud conviction, which he said represented another serious breach of trust and also afforded him significant personal gains. The District Court did not sentence Hreiðar Már to prison time for his crime, however, as he has already been sentenced to seven years in prison, which exceeds the maximum sentence allowances for economic crimes.

Heiðar Már was previously found guilty for major market manipulation and breach of trust in 2016, and embezzlement and breach of trust in 2015.