Corporate sponsorship or political payoffs?

Funding a political party has been hard sometimes. Where rules are transparent and payments are out in the open for all to see this is not a big problem. What tends to happen is that the parties usually deny to show their books and reveal who pays what in order to support them.  The connection between corruption of political parties and corporate influence has always been there. This has been the case all over the world. But most political parties officially deny that influence can be bought. We all know that is not the case.

Iceland, until recently, was an innocent country where corruption we believed to be very little. The secrecy of contributions to political parties had always been there because the parties claimed it was not any ones business to know who supported them. This was the norm for decades.  In 2006 a law was passed by the Icelandic Parliament the prohibited any payments over 300.000 ISK to be donated to the parties. The law was passed after ever increasing pressure on opening the books and making sure no political payments where made that could be perceived as inappropriate. This was to take effect on January 1st 2007. The parties behind this law where the Independence party and the Progressive party.

Still to this day, it has been very hard to get any information on who contributed to the parties to date. The smaller ones have opened some of their books and others claim that it is still nobody´s business who sponsors them. The parties who refuse to open up are the ones that have been under most of the scrutiny because of political connections to companies and individuals who now are blamed for the Icelandic economic collapse.

Three days before the law took effect the company FL Group contributed to the Independence party 30 million ISK. At this time FL Group was a huge investor in airlines, shipping, and other similar adventures. It is now called Stodir. The company was under the rule of Baugur Group, a company that has been written about before on this website.

Nobody of the party elite claims to have known about this deal. Not the chairman, vice chairman, ministers. Nobody. This is a massive deal and the only one who knows about this is Andri Ottarson the party manager. He has refused to commented on the matter any further. He is a relative nobody in the political world, just an office clerk who runs day to day business of the party. He is connected to all he major party members of course and is Geir H. Haarde (Ex PM) main contact man. It is incredible that nobody knew about this massive injection of cash.

According to legal experts this kind of deal is morally wrong, and incredible in the sense that the party itself set the laws in place to avoid this kind of thing happening. They managed to keep it secret for 2 years, and the party where nobody knows anything about this now claim this to be a political spin because of the general elections in 20 days time.

Of the blogsphere and society in general, nobody believes the party elite´s excuses that they didn’t know and if the had known, they say that the deal would never have been approved.

Other political parties refuse to give up their sponsors as well. The Social Democratic Alliance refuses to comment on who supported them. The total money the received was 23,5 million ISK in that year.  The Indepenence party got 56 million ISK. The money from FL Group was more then half of all their income.

The main questions is still hanging over the Independence party, and that is the question of what did FL Group or its owners actually get for their money?

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