The judge of the Baugur case is questioning 18 of the 40 charges, against Baugur CEO Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, his father, sister, former CEO and two KPMG auditors, calling them “flawed”.
In a letter sent on the 26th of August, to the prosecutor, and to the defendant of Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, the judge writes, “certain aspects of the indictment may be flawed to the extent that rectification may not be possible in the course of proceedings and that therefore it may not be possible to pronounce judgment regarding material aspects of the case.”
The judge then details the flaws that he sees in the 18 of the 40 charges, including breach of trust, embezzlement, and violations of the commercial code.
A special session will be held at the District Court of Reykjavík next Tuesday where the prosecution and defendants will be allowed to present their case. Thereafter the judge will decide if the full indictment will be approved or individual charges or if the entire case will be dismissed.
Jón Snorrason, prosecutor and head of the Economic Crime Division of the Office of the National Commissioner of Police, said in an interview to the Morgunbladid yesterday that the justice system assumed that the judges examined the charges so that the prosecution were given the opportunity to further explain or fix such flaws that could possibly impede the case.
Jón said that in this position the prosecution has the opportunity to explain the case more thoroughly. “If the judges believe that these are real flaws, which can not be looked past, then the judges can, for practical reasons, dismiss the separate items or entire charges. The prosecution is then given the opportunity to redress these flaws in accordance with the finding of the district court and present a new or improved indictment,” said Jón.
Gestur Jónsson, defendant to Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, said if some of the charges are dismissed then those parts would simply no longer be in the picture. Gestur believed that there were considerable constraints imposed on the prosecutor concerning what issues, of those that have been dismissed in court, can be reopened. Gestur said that to the best of his knowledge the letter from the judge was without precedent.
The investigation in the Baugur case took over three years with over 200 people were questioned by National Police Commissioner’s Economic Crimes Unit. It is by far the largest investigation of an alleged economic crime that the Icelandic police has undertaken to date.
Both the Guardian and Financial Times reported on this new development late last night.