In the wake of the meltdown of the Icelandic Economy and collapse of the country’s three largest Banks in October 2008, a new office was introduced in February of 2009; the Special Prosecutor. He was, and still is, directly responsible for investigating criminal actions in the period preceding, during, in connection with or in the wake of the collapse of the Icelandic banks. The Special Prosecutor investigates any financial undertakings by individuals or legal entities and then follows up, if deemed necessary, by bringing charges in court to those concerned.
The impact of the Special Prosecutor has been huge in Iceland and it has been a lonely and difficult journey for the nearly 50-year-old former policeman, Mr. Olafur Thor Hauksson. Before being appointed to the job, Mr. Hauksson served as a district commissioner in the Western part of Iceland and had never worked in the private sector and never investigated a complex financial crime. But he was considered extremely honest, focused, dedicated and bright enough to be able to identify where things were not what they seemed to be and have the vision to assemble a team to analyse, unravel and take a part layers of complex cover ups and find the truth.
In the over five years since he took office, Mr. Hauksson has investigated thousands of cases of economic violations, gainful offences and taxation infringements. It’s been a difficult job as the general public, outraged by what his office has unearthed and revealed about the way some bankers, investors and boardmembers of various banks and companies, squandered assets, invested badly and cheated, cries for blood and strict punishments. Mr. Hauksson, calm as every, only replies that revenge should not be the main drive in his work, it must be proper today and be seen as proper in the future.
In a country of just over 325,000 inhabitants, the Special Prosecutors’ team has more than 100 investigators, lawyers and experts working on over 100 cases involving close to 150 people who are suspected of possible crimes relating to the financial sector. Working against a virtual army of high-profile lawyers, Mr. Hauksson, spends a considerable time in the courtrooms and through his work he’s become an household name and most of Iceland’s inhabitants rooting for his team.
Days before the 6th anniversary of the Icelandic Collapse, the Special Prosecutor, opened one of his biggest cases in the District Court where leading figures in one of the three biggest banks, Landsbankinn, were charged with market manipulation and controlling the value of the bank’s shares.