District Court dismisses one out of nineteen charges in Baugur case Skip to content

District Court dismisses one out of nineteen charges in Baugur case

Last Friday, the District Court of Reykjavík decided on the motion of the defense to dismiss all nineteen charges filed by the special prosecutor appointed in the case initially brought last year by the National Police, Economic Crimes division against the current CEO of Baugur, Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, and several others.

According to the verdict, article 116 of the law governing public prosections stipulates “what should be described in a charge, the crime, when and where it took place, its name under the law” et cetera. In order to conform with article 116, “the description of [the alleged crime] should be such that neither the judge nor the defendant have any doubt about what criminal act the defendant stands accused of.”

The verdict then reads: “The first count of the charges describes share transactions through which the defendant [Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson] is alleged to have purchased [shares] and then sold to Baugur hf several months later without disclosing that he was the seller. Baugur hf is alleged to have paid a higher price for the shares than the defendant. The difference is alleged to represent a financial loss to Baugur hf and, to a substantial degree, a profit for [the defendant]. The first count does not describe how the defendant embezzled funds from Baugur hf, but instead it is most probably to be discerned that [the first count of charges] describes how Baugur hf could have, or should have, made a more favorable purchase if the defendant had conducted the transaction in a different way. The description of the alleged crime is therefore not a description of an act of embezzlement but of a business transaction which possibly was not favorable to Baugur hf but possibly favorable to the defendant and others. The first count of the charges is therefore not in accordance with the aforementioned section c of article 116 of the law governing public prosecutions.”

It is therefore “impossible but to dismiss [the first count of the charges] but since the other charges remain [the Court] will not decide [who shall bear] the cost of litigation.”

Judge Arngrímur Ísberg presided in the case.

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