Finance Minister: Child Protection Agency Leaked Mails Skip to content

Finance Minister: Child Protection Agency Leaked Mails

Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon accuses the Government Agency for Child Protection of leaking emails exchanged between himself and Minister for Social Affairs Árni Páll Árnason on the affairs of the treatment home Árbót in Adaldalur, north Iceland.

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Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon. Photo by Páll Kjartansson.

It has been revealed that the two ministers agreed on a compensation of ISK 30 million (USD 265,000, EUR 195,000) to the couple who ran the home last month because of its closure earlier this year. The director of the agency was opposed to the arrangement, ruv.is reports.

In an email sent to Árnason by Sigfússon, the latter stated that he considered the cancelation of the contract between Árbót and the Government Agency for Child Protection unfortunate.

Vice-chair of the Independence Party Ólöf Nordal asked Sigfússon about the course of events at parliament yesterday and whether he considered such work methods normal.

Sigfússon replied that the matter had been worked on in accordance with the law and proper administrative methods.

“However, I wrote the email in January because we at the Ministry of Finance were concerned that if this matter didn’t go down well we could be looking at extensive additional costs and therefore we wanted to hear professional arguments before taking any further steps,” the minister explained.

Nordal said she couldn’t accept this conduct as sound administration. Problems have to be solved, she agreed, but in the right manner.

Regarding the publication of his emails in the media, Sigfússon remarked, “It is a different story how the private email exchanged between myself and the minister of social affairs has suddenly appeared in the papers, apparently through the Government Agency for Child Protection. It is definitely their contribution towards trying to reach a conclusion and reconciliation on this affair.”

According to Fréttabladid, “professional arguments” are nowhere to be found in the sources which the paper has access to on the Árbót affair.

In an agreement on the home’s closure, its operators requested compensation because of the balance of a loan taken for the home’s restoration and repair of damages. They also requested compensation for the cost of adapting the house to new purposes.

Settlements of these items are nowhere to be found, Fréttabladid reports. The only financial statements submitted were those of the company Árbót, which had a long-term debt of ISK 2.6 million (USD 23,000, EUR 17,000).

However, the debt of Bragabót, another company owned by those who operated the treatment home, which was responsible for running Árbót’s real estate affairs, amounted to ISK 56 million (USD 495,000, EUR 364,000) at the end of 2009 while its equity was ISK 37 million.

According to Fréttabladid, it isn’t explained anywhere how the compensation of ISK 30 million was calculated.

The newspaper states that according to an email sent by Minister for Social Affairs Árnason to his undersecretary, assistant and office manager, pressure from MPs in the northeast constituency caused the ministry to pay out the compensation.

Kristján Thór Júlíusson, MP for the Independence Party in northeast Iceland, is said to have emailed all other MPs from the region, explaining how troubled the couple at Árbót are because the Government Agency of Child Protection keeps sending teenagers to the home and that he trusts Sigfússon, also an MP from the region, will handle the matter.

According to Fréttabladid, email communication shows that negotiations on compensation began as early as January, a week after the agency canceled its contract with Árbót.

That happened in spite of claims from the Ministry of Finance and Social Affairs that they only interfered after the agency failed to reach an agreement with the home’s operators and requested assistance from the latter ministry at the end of March, the newspaper states.

Click here to read more about the Árbót affair.

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