French-Norwegian corruption hunter Eva Joly, who was hired by the Icelandic government to assist with the investigation on the banking collapse, said in an interview on RÚV’s news magazine Kastljós last night that more funding is needed.
Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
In response, Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon told Morgunbladid that if it is Joly’s evaluation that the office of the special prosecutor requires increased funding to properly investigate the events leading up to the collapse, it will be considered.
“Even though times are difficult, [the investigation] cannot be compromised because of a lack of funding,” Sigfússon added.
Special Prosecutor Ólafur Thór Hauksson told Fréttabladid that he requires at least twice as many employees than the current 12. Joly recommends that 25 to 30 people work with him on the investigation.
“The office is now working on close to 30 cases and we know that more are on the way,” Hauksson said.
Minister of Justice Ragna Árnadóttir told Morgunbladid that she takes Joly’s criticism very seriously. In the interview, Joly stated that an annual funding of EUR 3 million (USD 4 million) was necessary in order for the investigation to be successful, pointing out that merely one third of that amount had been contributed.
“If that is what she says, there must be some truth in it,” Árnadóttir said. However, the government has to make a decision on increased funding to the office of the special prosecutor, and all such requests are difficult at the moment, the minister pointed out.
“But it is of course an absolute priority that this investigation is undertaken in a satisfactory manner, and better than that,” Árnadóttir stated.
In the Kastljós interview, Joly also expressed the opinion that Attorney General Valtýr Sigurdsson is unfit for his position and that he should step down.
In response, Árnadóttir commented, “The attorney general is the highest-ranking official of the prosecution and he decides whether he is unfit or not. I cannot decide.”
However, the minister said she would look into the matter. Sigurdsson has already declared that he will not participate in any investigation related to the banking collapse because of family connections. His son, Sigurdur Valtýsson, is CEO of investment company Exista, the former majority owner of Kaupthing, Fréttabladid reports.
Árnadóttir is preparing a legal amendment so that three prosecutors can operate at the same time, according to Joly’s recommendations, and is going to appoint advocate to the Supreme Court Björn Bergsson as attorney general alongside Sigurdsson because of his unfitness and is preparing a bill to that end.