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Win Win for Samherji whistle-blower

22.10.2021 - 14:36
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 Mynd: RÚV
Managers of Samherji in Iceland should be made to repay everything they took from Namibia and need to be sentenced in court. So said Samherji-employee-turned-whistle-blower Jóhannes Stefánsson as he accepted the Win Win Gothenburg Sustainability Award yesterday.

The prize has been awarded by the Swedish city for 20 years and has a specific theme each year. 

“Everyone knows how to start sustainable development,” said Emma Dalväg, chairman of the judging committee. “But what is it that stands in the way of all our efforts? Our research showed that corruption is one of the biggest obstacles to the development we want to see.” 

The prize money is equivalent to 15 million krónur and Emma said it was awarded this year to draw attention to the importance of whistle-blowers—people brave enough to fight corruption and abuse of power, who often pay a heavy price for their principles. Jóhannes is no exception, she said, having suffered repeated bullying and threats of violence and even death. 

Jóhannes Stefánsson was grateful, saying in his acceptance speech: 

“This is has a significant meaning for me personally, fighting injustice, and not only me, because there is a whole village behind me and has been for five years. And thankfully the village is only getting bigger, and I think tonight, even much bigger.” 

He told RÚV before the ceremony that he sees the prize as recognition for the work of all whistle-blowers, who are not always popular—often far from it. “This is big and has great significance in the fight to finish the Samherji case.” 

He says he has faith in the ongoing investigation by the district prosecutor in which he is one of the official defendants and gave a statement this summer. He says the investigation in Namibia is also in full swing and that there may be court action next year in which he will appear as a witness. He says he hopes for a guilty verdict. 

"Naturally, there needs to be a conviction of Samherji managers in Iceland, and if that means I am convicted too, then so be it. It's no problem on my part. They have to pay back everything they took from Namibia." 

The whole ceremony can be viewed here.

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