Robin Hood in reverse

Egill Helgason gets it spot on.

Icelanders are taking the debts of the rich and giving it to the poor.

When the fishing quota system was initiated the quota was handed to selected fisheries, amongst them fisheries owned by members of parliament, who did not have to pay a single krona for it. They then created a market for the fishing quota and became billionaires. In time, those who bought the quotas learned how to leverage it to finance entry into a different game, investments. It is now leveraged three times the worth of the annual catch, in many cases in foreign currencies.

And now the fisheries want their debts annulled. To save the industry of course.

The industry they have toyed with mercilessly, leaving former prosperous ports without hesitation, leaving them to rot and decay. The industry they have cheated by employing cheap foreign labor, flags of convenience and hiding profits in tax shelters.

No wonder those captains of industry are amongst the strongest opponents of Iceland joining the EU. They would have to play by rules that don’t revolve around their own behinds.

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Dumping liabilities onto taxpayers could be a profitable business. Two of Kaupthing’s former CEO’s have formed a company that will help you negotiate with the banks to cancel debts. It could lead to absurd situations like ones where they enter a conference room with a massively indebted individual who they granted the loans to in the first place. And on the other side of the table are their former assistants who processed the loans in the first place and were much better paid for than now by the state.

Absurd? Yes. But obviously a growing business, that’s what Sigurjon Arnason and Tryggvi Jonsson are doing in Landsbankinn.

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