Attorney General of Iceland Will Not Step Down Skip to content

Attorney General of Iceland Will Not Step Down

Attorney General Valtýr Sigurdsson announced yesterday that he is not planning to resign from his post. Consultant to the investigation of the banking collapse Eva Joly expressed her view on Wednesday that Sigurdsson must step down due to family connections.

Sigurdsson’s son, Sigurdur Valtýsson, is CEO of investment company Exista, which used to be the majority owner of Kaupthing, one of the banks under investigation.

The headquarters of Kaupthing in Reykjavík, one of the banks that is being investigated. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

Sigurdsson has already declared that he will not participate in the investigation of the banking collapse, but in Joly’s view that is not enough; she insists he resigns as attorney general altogether, Morgunbladid reports.

“It is very important to the attorney general that the recently-founded office of the special prosecutor has absolute credibility and that there is no doubt about its independence,” Sigurdsson wrote in a letter to Minister of Justice Ragna Árnadóttir on May 18, announcing that he will step down temporarily in all cases investigated by the special prosecutor, to begin with until June 1, 2010.

In reaction to the letter, Árnadóttir appointed Advocate to the Supreme Court Björn Bergsson as attorney general alongside Sigurdsson, to supervise cases investigated by the special prosecutor, Ólafur Thór Hauksson.

A legal amendment is necessary for that to happen. The ministry and legal specialists concluded that, according to the current legislation, the attorney general cannot step aside on the basis of disqualification in a specific field but only in individual cases.

It will also be suggested that the Althingi parliament investigation committee no longer report to the attorney general.

The attorney general said he doesn’t comprehend how Joly, as the consultant to the special prosecutor, has anything to do with the matters of his office after he has discontinued all formal involvement in cases that are investigated by the office of the special prosecutor.

“I have been fighting for developing the prosecution in the country and funds have been lacking,” Sigurdsson said, adding that there are problems everywhere and that it must be kept in mind that his office is not just involved with banking matters.

Also, Joly’s demands are unclear and he doesn’t see the purpose in complying with them, Sigurdsson stated.

The attorney general is appointed the office by the minister of justice with no term limit. He or she is not dependent upon anyone else in his or her work and the attorney general cannot be ordered to leave the post.

It is therefore Sigurdsson’s own decision whether he steps down or not. He stated no meeting was planned with Minister Árnadóttir because of Joly’s request.

However, Árnadóttir has stated that she is planning to discuss this matter with Sigurdsson, hoping to find an acceptable solution.

Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir said at parliament yesterday that she supports everything Joly has suggested.

“I also support what she says in regard to the disqualification of the attorney general and that has to be dealt with. The minister of justice is preparing a bill so that it can be dealt with as Eva Joly is requesting. I consider this a fundamental matter,” Sigurdardóttir stated.

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