Iceland Mag

1 Reykjavik

Iceland Mag

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Jailed bankers said to be living in luxury, causing frustration among fellow prisoners

By Staff

  • Still living in more luxury than the rest Other prisoners are annoyed at the luxury the top brass of Kaupthing seem to be able to afford, even after having been sentenced to prison. Photo/visir.is

The four financiers who were sentenced to four to five and a half years in prison for extensive market manipulation earlier this year, are living in luxury and comfort at Kvíabryggja prison, according to the sources of local news service Vísir.

According to the sources of Vísir the Kaupthing top brass, the bank’s chief executive, Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson, its chairman, Sigurður Einarsson and the CEO of Kaupthing Luxembourg Magnús Guðmundsson as well as Ólafur Ólafsson, who was one of the most prominent investors in Iceland prior to the crash, as well as the largest shareholder of Kaupthing, are spending their time in significantly greater comfort than other prisoners at Kvíabryggja prison, causing some level of frustration among the other prisoners.

Expensive furniture, computer equipment, bikes and fancy meals
Their cells have been panted and refurnished with expensive furniture, espresso machines and fancy computer equipment. They have also brought with them bicycles which are “so expensive nobody dreams of acquiring such things, and paying for them”, according to visir.is.

However, what annoys fellow prisoners most, is that the four refuse to share the table with other prisoners during meal times. Instead, they wait until everyone else has eaten, and only then emerge to eat "special foods" which have been brought to them by outside visitors.

No special treatment
Páll Winkel, the director of the Icelandic Prison Service, rejects any claims that the four Kaupthing financiers receive some special treatment. He points out that all prisoners are allowed to have their cells painted and bring furniture or personal belongings. The same applies to bicycles. He admits that such items come in a broad price range, but notes that prison authorities cannot check the price tags of items prisoners are allowed to bring with them. Prisoners are also allowed to eat foods brought in by visitors. “The main issue is that the rules ensure that we do not discriminate,” he tells Vísir.

The prison, which has room for 22 prisoners who are not considered to pose a flight risk, including white collar criminals, and is located on Snæfellsnes Peninsula, is an “open” prison, without bars on the windows or a security fence. Prisoners at Kvíabryggja enjoy a certain degree of freedom, not afforded to other inmates in the Icelandic prison system.

Capo di capos
According to the sources of Vísir Ólafur Ólafsson is considered to be the "unisputed leader" of the "Kaupthing clan" by the other prisoners. "He is a total boss", an unnamed source is quted as describing Ólafur. Agnar Kristján Þorsteinsson, local blogger, activist and film buff, commented sarcastically on his facebook page that this was interesting news: "Now at least we know who is the capo di capos."

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