The effect of punishment is a hotly debated topic in criminology. The fact that two Icelandic bankers were sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison for breach of fiduciary duty in the so-called Byr case seems to have shaken others in a similar situation. In an interview with Ruv tonight, the head of the Office of the Special Prosecutor Olafur Hauksson said that the OSP clearly senses that the Byr sentence has had an effect.
“The judgment gives a clear indication how the courts are likely to view similar cases. Also, the judgment has in some ways clarified things for those we are questioning, which means that the testimonies are now more clear than earlier,” Hauksson said. Those questioned are more willing to tell the whole story than earlier, which means that witness statements are better.
Hauksson says that the heavy sentences have spelled out the gravity of these cases. Many other cases under investigation regard breach of fiduciary duty where the sums at stake are not only ISK1bn, like in the Byr case but amount to several billions or even tens of billions. The maximum punishment for breach of fiduciary duty is six years, which means that the Supreme Court judges who ruled on the Byr case must have seen this activity as a serious crime.
Again, the question is why so little seems to be done in other European countries to prosecute bankers. Breach of fiduciary duty is a crime in most if not all Western countries, it is a fairly clear-cut activity – and yes, at least in Iceland it’s actually a serious crime.
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