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Controversial Bank Secrecy Rule “Not an Issue”

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Controversial Bank Secrecy Rule “Not an Issue”

Vigdís Hauksdóttir

Vigdís Hauksdóttir.

Following yesterday’s calls from the Progressive Party to withdraw the 110-year period of secrecy on data and documentation about the resolution of the old bankrupt banks, the head of the national archives has said that no documentation currently exists with 110-year secrecy applied.

Einar G. Guðmundsson, national archivist, told RÚV that no data is currently protected by 110-year secrecy. He came forward with the information in response to a bill from the Progressive Party to remove that level of secrecy regarding the banking crash.

Vigdís Hauksdóttir, chair of the parliamentary finance committee, has harshly criticized the ‘fact’ that documentation from the resolution of the old banks is stored in a secret room at Alþingi, only accessible to MPs—and the parliamentary Progressive Party has committed to getting the 110-year secrecy removed for all such documentation from the crash to the present day.

“This bill which we are going to put forth, and are appealing for support from all parties, is all about removing the 110-year rule, which is not in information laws, but is in the laws on the national archives,” Vigdís said on television.

A written response from the national archives says that public records keepers can refuse applications for access to documents which are younger than 110 years—if they contain information on private matters relating to individuals who are still alive, or in the public interest. However, the law has never been tested to date, as there are no documents currently covered by the 110-year rule.

“This rule which the Progressives have been so preoccupied with is a really niche exception for archivists and has nothing to do with the documents that are down at Alþingi,” Left Green Movement MP Steingrímur J. Sigfússon told RÚV.

Steingrímur added, however, that he fully supports the idea of as much documentation as possible being public, apart from when it contains sensitive personal information.

“Let’s just go for it, all out. From the privatization of the banks, right through that process and now to Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson’s government’s contracts with foreign claimants allowing them to escape with stability contributions instead of a stability tax, and three or four hundred billion lower payments than otherwise. And shouldn’t we take overseas areas into account too, shouldn’t we put all cards on the table?” Going on to ask Vigdís whether the whole idea is just a distraction tactic from the other issues currently preoccupying the nation.

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