Just before 3 pm this afternoon, the District Court of Reykjavík acquitted the managers of Baugur of 8 charges out of 40 originally filed last year.
The other 32 charges had already been dismissed by the District and Supreme Courts on technical grounds.
According to the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service, RÚV, the special prosecutor Sigurdur Tómas Magnússon said the verdict “did not confirm to the case made by the prosecution”. Sigurdur Tómas said he would decide what to do with the remaining 32 charges within 2 weeks.
According to RÚV, defense counsel Gestur Jónsson said he was “not surprised in any way” by the verdict.
The defendants were not present when the verdict was announced.
The verdict read today applied to charges 33-40. In charges 33 – 36, Baugur CEO Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, former Baugur CEO Tryggvi Jónsson, and KPMG accountants Stefán Hilmar Stefánsson and Anna Thórdardóttir, were charged with giving misleading information about loans to shareholders, the board of directors, managing directors and other insiders in Baugur’s annual reports from 1998 – 2001.
In charges 37 – 40 Baugur CEO Jón Ásgeir, his father, Jóhannes Jónsson, and sister, Kristín Jónsdóttir, were charged with evading import duties and preparing false documents in connection with automobiles they imported from the US. They were charged with evading payment on ISK 2.3 million in taxes and import duties.
The Baugur case started in the summer of 2002 when a former business partner of Baugur, Jón Gerald Sullenberger, filed charges against Baugur with the office of the National Commissioner of the Police. The police started an investigation of Baugur and filed charges last summer when the case was brought to court.
Last fall, 32 of the 40 charges originally filed against several Baugur managers were dismissed by the District and Supreme Courts on technical grounds. They are now being reviewed by special prosecutor for the purpose of evaluating if and how they should be filed again. The 32 charges concern alleged embezzlement and fraud in violation of the criminal code. The charges also involve alleged violations of the corporate code.
Today, the National Police of Iceland will start taking depositions relating to those 32 remaining charges.
The technical reason for the dismissal include: the description of the alleged crime was flawed; how the alleged crime related to the law was flawed; the alleged crime did not match the description of the crime and sometimes even contradicted the description; in many cases it was not clear how each of the accused was involved in perpetrating the alleged crime. The court also said that the indictment was unclear.