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Baugur not guilty

The Supreme Court of Iceland ruled yesterday that all four defendants of Baugur Group still on trial were not guilty of six charges of fraud and embezzlement.

With yesterday’s ruling, the Supreme Court confirmed the ruling of Reykjavík District Court from March 15, 2006. Fréttabladid reports.

Baugur CEO Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson was accused of registering loans that he and his associates took from 1998 to 2001 in a wrong or decisive manner into his company’s annual accounts.

Jóhannesson was further accused, in addition to his sister, Kristín Jóhannesdóttir, of having imported two automobiles to Iceland without paying all taxes required.

Accountants Stefán Hilmar Hilmarsson and Anna Thórdardóttir were accused of having signed the annual accounts from 1998 to 2001 without reservation.

These charges were all dismissed yesterday, but the defendants are not off the hook yet. Eight more charges of the original 40, which were first brought against Baugur in July 2005, are scheduled to be dealt with in Reykjavík District Court on February 12.

The counsel for the defense, Gestur Jónsson, said yesterday’s ruling should lead to the dismissal of these eight remaining charges, but the appointed state prosecutor, Sigurdur Tómas Magnússon, said grounds for the remaining charges still exist.

Fréttabladid reports that Baugur CEO Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson was not surprised by the ruling. “This is a very satisfactory result and in correspondence with what I knew in my heart would happen,” he announced in a written statement to the media.

Jóhannesson further said that the appointed prosecutor, Sigurdur Tómas Magnússon, had used “very tasteless and unfair” comments in court last week when he compared Jóhannesson to an “immoral worker in a cowshed.”

“Magnússon is the real cowshed worker,” Jóhannesson concluded.

Click here to read more about the Baugur case.

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