Cyprus…What You Can Learn From Iceland

As the Eurozone financial crisis continues to plague the island nation of Cyprus, its citizens are receiving a crash course in how an out-of-control banking industry and its corrupt banksters can bring an entire economy to its knees.

The Cypriot economy has ground to a halt, thanks to massive losses that its oversized banking sector sustained from investments in Greece and a deep recession.

Banks in Cyprus have been shut all week, and are not due to reopen until next Tuesday at the earliest, to try to prevent a run on the banks.

When all is said and done, and if the Cypriot economy ever recovers from this financial collapse, Cypriots will hopefully have a new-found awareness of the banks, and implement better oversight and regulation over their financial industry.

That’s exactly what they did in Iceland, and its working wonders for the small island nation.

In 2008, when the global financial crisis began taking down economies one by one, Iceland was hit incredibly hard.

All three of the country’s major privately owned banks collapsed, and Iceland’s stock exchange, the OMX Iceland 15, plummeted. Pension funds were slashed, and businesses were wiped out.

Iceland could have responded to that financial crisis the same way that the United States did, and come up with a massive bailout package to save the banks, and let their crimes go unpunished.

Or, Iceland could arrest the banksters that brought down the economy, bail out those most affected by the collapse — the average Icelanders themselves — and begin to rebuild the financial industry.

Iceland chose the latter. Jail the bums.

In December of 2008, the Icelandic parliament passed a bill establishing an Office of the Special Prosecutor.

The job of this new office was to investigate suspected criminal conduct leading up to, in connection with, or in the wake of the banking crisis, and to follow up these investigations by bringing criminal charges against those responsible for the crisis.

Since the Office of the Special Prosecutor was created, Iceland has been rounding up their banksters one after another.

In March of 2011, Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz were arrested in London, as part of the Special Prosecutor’s Office investigation into the collapse of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

In December of last year, a Reykjavik court sentenced two of the top executives at Icelandic bank Glitnir to jail time.

And just yesterday, nine more banksters from the Iceland bank Kaupthing were indicted and charged for their roles in orchestrating five large-scale market manipulation conspiracies.

These are only a few of the arrests that have been made, as Iceland cleans up its banking industry, and holds its own corrupt banksters accountable for their actions in the 2008 financial collapse.

Meanwhile, here in the United States, the Wall Street banksters that brought our economy to its knees are still sitting pretty in their corner offices or retired with hundreds of millions of dollars of your money.

Just look at Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan.

In a recent report on JPMorgan’s monumental multi-billion dollar trading loss, Dimon is alleged to have criminally withheld from regulators key details about the bank’s daily losses.

And numerous other reports have suggested that Dimon may have been complicit in JPMorganChase engaging in additional criminal and/or unethical activity.

But Dimon and the rest of his fat-cat buddies are doing just fine today, continuing to rake in multi-million dollar bonuses or golden-parachute retirements.

And Dimon’s actions pale in comparison to executives at the HSBC bank, who recently admitted in court to allowing Mexican and Colombian drug cartels to launder nearly $900 million through their bank. If you’d done that, you’d be in jail for the rest of your life, but these are rich white banksters who give millions to politicians and political parties.

Executives of the banks also admitted to using various schemes to move around hundreds of millions of dollars to nations subject to trade sanction, including Iran, Cuba and Sudan. And, reports suggest that some of this money made its way into the hands of terrorist organizations. If you’d done that, you might be in Guantanamo. But, then again, you’re not a bankster.

Despite these egregious criminal actions, the United States has yet to jail a single HSBC bankster.

So, what’s the bottom line to all of this?

Eventually, when Cyprus’ economy recovers, the Cypriot government will have a choice to make.

They can choose to let their banksters go free, and risk another financial meltdown like we in the United States have chosen to do. Or they can take the Icelandic approach, crack down on corruption in their financial industry, and prosecute and jail those responsible for causing and worsening the collapse.

At the start of the 2008 worldwide economic collapse, Iceland was in worse shape financially than just about every country in the world.

Today, Iceland is home to one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

They got from there to here by throwing their banksters in jail.

Hopefully Cyprus will take a page out of the Icelandic playbook, and lock-up the banksters.

And America should do the same thing, too!