You couldn’t make it up

14 July 2010

It’s one of those phrases that people let fall with a despairing shake of the head and a frown when some politician, public servant or EU official has done something particularly daft.
But it’s true – fact is so often stranger than fiction.
Frozen Assets was written last year and will be published at the beginning of  next year. A large slice of what goes on in the story is some entirely imaginary shenanigans set in the little world of the Icelandic business community and I thought at the time that I was pushing things beyond the bounds of credibility.
A while ago I was speaking to a gentleman who was being held at Her Majesty’s Pleasure for an undisclosed offence. He said with a twinkle in his eye: ‘whatever you try to make up, one of us in here has tried it.’
And so it is with the creepy, incestuous world of Iceland’s politics and business. Watching the developments there is a magnificent spectacle. Every time you think that a previous achievement can’t be topped, it happens.
The latest is the saga of Magma Energy and the manoeuvrings to make sure that the Reykjanes peninsula’s geothermal resources get sold off to the favoured buyer – although just why these people are the favoured buyer is anybody’s guess.
I’m not going to go into any detail, but Alda has written about this over at the Iceland Weather Report.
What is so breathtaking is that these people thought they could get away with it so easily simply by pretending to have a subsidiary located in a lawyer’s office in Gothenburg – they didn’t even bother with a brass plate. It’s just so magnificently blatant. Why didn’t I think of that? Even if I had, would a copy editor have told me that this particular plot device won’t work as it’s too simple to be plausible?
The bizarre part of it is that everyone knew just what was happening, but nobody in Iceland’s mainstream press wanted to go out on a limb and say so. It took a couple of energetic bloggers, one of whom took the time and trouble to visit an office in Gothenburg, to shine a little light on the reality.
The truth really is stranger than fiction.

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