Former Icelandic PM – The First Politician in the World To Answer for the Economic Crisis
Former Icelandic prime minister Geir Haarde on Monday told a court in the capital of the island, Reykjavik, that he was not guilty of the charges brought against him that he failed to adequately protect the country against the financial crisis that hit the world in 2008. According to BBC, if found guilty, Haarde risks up to two years in prison.
Haarde is the first officials in the world to he referred to a court for the financial crisis that engulfed the world economy since 2008. He said neither he nor the financial regulators knew about the precarious state of the Icelandic economy until it collapsed in 2008.
He said the trial was the first chance he had to talk about what happened then, and said that he rejected the accusations and that there was no basis for them. He became the symbol of the bubble economy for the Icelanders who lost their homes and jobs after the main banks in the country collapsed within a week in 2008, plunging the national currency in an inflation soaring.
Prosecutors opened the case of Haarde at the Landsdomur, the High Court, a special criminal court based in Reykjavik, which has been established in 1905 to judge the criminal behavior of members of the cabinet, and which was now being convened for the first time in the country’s history.
The court has 15 members, five of them supreme court judges, a district court president, a constitutional law professor and eight people chosen every six years by the parliament. On September 28, 2010, the Icelandic parliament voted by 33 votes to 30 to summon Haarde before the Landsdomur.
The most part of the prosecution rests on the fact that the former prime minister refused to implement recommendations formulated in 2006 by a governmental committee to strengthen the economy.
Icelandic banking system boomed over the decade preceding 2008, with a growing that was nine times the annual gross domestic product of the small nation. It collapsed under the weight of its debts in 2008.
In his defense, Haarde said that no one knew how much the debts of the banks were and that the fall of the banks could not be predicted with accuracy. He added that there were two elements that led to the disaster: the banks’ recklessness and the global credit crisis.
He added that not even the Financial Supervisory Authority fully understood the extent of the banks’ lack of accountability and their illegal operations.
Haarde was forced out of office by the protests that engulfed the small Nordic nation in 2009, as it was trying to survive the havoc. He sought to dismiss all charges, reminded that he had the Icelanders’ interest at heart, and accused the banks for the crisis. He added that he and the government had attempted to deal with the crisis results and that his conscience was clear. The trial is expected to hold until mid-March and the verdict to be delivered in four to six weeks after.
A vote in 2010 established by a vote of 35 to 27 and 32 to 31, respectively, that neither former business minister Bjorgvin Sigurdsson, nor former finance minister Arni Mathiesen would be taken to Landsdomur. The same verdict was passed in regard to former foreign minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir.
The prime minister of the country, Johanna Sigurdardottir, announced her disapproval of taking the former ministers to the High Court, and voted “no” even in the case of Geir Haarde.11