We are so corrupt that we think we aren’t

When Transparency International publishes its reports on corruption, Iceland usually comes across as one of the least corrupt places on earth. The trouble is how corruption is measured in these international reports.

For example, they measure things like how many politicians have been found guilty in courts of law. Here it is no problem because the government has placed its own relatives and friends on the high courts, and within the investigative units. So there is no measurable corruption there. One member of parliament has been found guilty of embezzlement in the last ten years. Once he had served his time, his co-members of the Independent Party used the opportunity when the President was away, when his limited executive powers are transferred to the government, and wiped his record clean. Something that is within the law but noone but a member of parliament would be arrogant enough to request. He was promtly re-elected.

Which proves that some people are more equal than others in Iceland.

Yesterday I wrote about the everyday people I met during one weekend and the problems they are facing. Their jobs are gone, equity has disappeared and they are facing catastrophic change to their lives. In contrast we have the new manager of Glitnir bank whose 200million ISK shares in the bank she never had to pay for, unlike everyone who has ever bought shares in Glitnir. Today, news emerged that top-employees of Kaupthing had their debt caused by taking loans in the bank’s shares wiped away. In most instances this debt totaled amounts that would have bankrupted them.

The reason that is given for this is that their expertise is needed in the running of the bank and therefore it would be irresponsible to bankrupt them, because if they were they would not be allowed to work at a financial institution.


I must declare that I used to work there and am slightly familiar with the names thrown about in this case. All of whom I have personally nothing but good words to say about. I am also not sure if this has been confirmed to be truth. But if this is really the case then I will ask the Financial Authorities to cut my home loan in half and/or to remove the price indexation. And to do so with everyone else. Because our existence is needed for this to be a country where anyone can live.

Where was I, corruption? Hmmm. Another news story was published today about an Independent Party member who is a city council member of Reykjavik and hired his friend to assist in policy formulation at Reykjavik Energy, where the council member happens to be the top man. His fee per month is 1.2 million ISK.

Icelandic politics make Palin’s Alaska seem like a role model for good governance.


1 Response to “We are so corrupt that we think we aren’t”

  1. 1 Einar Jón November 4, 2008 at 8:44 am

    Actually, it would be more correct to say that we are so corrupt that other countries can’t even think of ways to measure it.

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