Ragna Árnadóttir, dóms- og kirkjumálaráðherra.
Ávarp á hádegisfundi í Háskólanum í Reykjavík með Evu Joly, fyrrv. yfirrannsóknardómara
Iceland has not had many cases dealing with corruption and, until few years ago, not many cases dealing with serious economic crime.
In the past few months we have experienced a rapid change in this respect, now the investigation and the prosecution of economic crime has come into focus in Iceland.
A special prosecutor was appointed in the beginning of February to investigate suspicion of criminal actions in the period preceding and in connection with or in the wake of the collapse of the Icelandic banks. The authorisations granted to the Office cover matters including economic crime, gainful offences and taxation infringements, including offences which have been referred to the police by the Financial Supervisory Authority and other Administrative Authorities.
It has been pointed out that the collapse took place over 5 months ago and although the prosecutor has only been in office a little over a month, the public is eager for direct results. The prosecutor therefore faces growing pressure or demand for action, searches, seizures etc.
It is understandable that the public would like to see judicial results, especially when huge figures appear reflecting the debts that tax payers are supposed to pay in the future.
At the same time, the prosecutor has to strain himself from taking action too soon, perhaps spoiling the case later on. He has to abide by the rules that apply to his office and the Constitution.
It is very important that the special prosecutor has all necessary tools in order to fulfill his task. It is important that he has access to documents and other available information which can shed light on all criminal activity carried out in relation to the collapse. It is also of utmost importance that the prosecutor can make use of experts, both national and international.
I must stress that economic crime is a very complicated offence, that requires a specialised expertice . Although it is important to have a swift and decisive justice it is also important to realise that these kinds of offences often take a considerable time to investigate. In my opinion it is paramount that the criminal investigations are thorough and carried out in a meticulous manner so an informed decision is made if or when they reach a court of law.
In these circumstances, it is a true privilege and very valuable to get a visit from our main guest today, Mrs Eva Joly.
Mrs. Joly is a very recognized (esteemed) person internationally in the fight against corruption, and has a vast knowledge and experience dealing with complicated economic crime.
She had meetings yesterday with members of the government and the special prosecutor, and I assure you all that her advice is of good use to us all. So her visit to Iceland is good news.
Even better news is the fact that Mrs. Joly is willing to assist the special prosecutor in his work, for example by introducing him to her extensive network of prosecutors, facilitating mutual legal assistance amongst other things. Also I have heard that Mrs. Joly is willing to give her advice in the investigation of criminal cases, which is also very valuable.
Now I would like to welcome and give the floor to our distinguished guest, Mrs Eva Joly.