30-Mar-2016: Liquidators' Update, see Deloitte site

The Times

This page contains brief summaries of and links to media reports from the source The Times.

Iceland president urges Gordon Brown to step into Icesave row

Voters in Iceland are expected to have opted not to repay £3.5 billon lost in a bank collapse to Britain and the Netherlands, with the country's leader calling on Gordon Brown to settle the dispute.

Polls have suggested today's referendum, on whether or not taxpayer's will fund the repayments, could see up to three-quarters of Icelanders voting 'No'.. .

Grimsson said his country would accept a "fair deal" over the repayments and urged Gordon Brown to show "statesmanship" as he did on the global financial crisis, to avoid a second referendum, by putting forward a more "balanced agreement".

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “What is important following this referendum and in the light of the outcome is that the leadership of Britain and the Netherlands, especially Gordon Brown, will now take the matter into his own hands, which he has not done. 06-Mar-10.

Iceland at risk of isolation over failure to repay loans

Talks between Iceland and the Treasury over the repayment of a $5 billion (£3.3 billion) bailout loan hit a stalemate yesterday after the Government in Reykjavik insisted that the proposed interest bill was too onerous.

While Johanna Sigurdardottir, the Icelandic Prime Minister, said that she hoped a deal was still possible in the short term, Britain and the Netherlands, which are owed the money, are dismayed that a revised interest repayment schedule has been rejected.

If the stalemate continues, it is expected that Icelanders will effectively vote to reject repaying the money in a referendum scheduled for March 6.  27-Feb-10.

Thinking the unthinkable

The unthinkable had happened on both sides of the Atlantic. One of Wall Street’s biggest banks had been allowed to fail and, in Britain, the Treasury had nationalised Bradford & Bingley to prevent a run across the financial sector.

Against this backdrop, Alistair Darling and his Treasury officials were desperate to identify which bank might fail next. And so tiny Iceland became the new focus of the Chancellor, the Bank of England and an array of civil servants in Whitehall.

At stake was £3 billion of British investors’ money that had been sunk into the overheated and teetering Icelandic economy. Far from an esoteric investment target of City professionals, Mr Darling was faced with the prospect of local authority pension funds, charities and NHS retirement schemes bearing substantial losses. . .

Only weeks ago, Paul Tucker, the Deputy Governor of the Bank of England, pointed out to MPs the utmost importance of having a state-funded deposit guarantee scheme that paid out within weeks of a lender’s failure.  19-Feb-10.

Icelandic bailout exposed rift at the Treasury

'Sir Nicholas Macpherson appears to have put his opposition to a loan for Iceland on record in a letter to the Chancellor'

Lehman Brothers had collapsed three weeks earlier, but as the world banking system teetered on the brink of collapse, Alistair Darling and his chief civil servant were engaging in a heated dispute about whether to bail out an Icelandic savings bank.

Letters obtained by the Liberal Democrats and shown to The Times offer extraordinary details of the battle between the Chancellor and Sir Nicholas Macpherson, the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury, over using taxpayer money to extend a £3 billion loan to Iceland in October 2008.

While Sir Nicholas expressed his deep concerns about underwriting the deposits of Icesave, Landsbanki’s online savings business, and warned that Britain might not be repaid, Mr Darling overruled both the civil servant and the Bank of England, ordering the Government to extend a multibillion-pound loan to Reykjavik. 19-Feb-10.

May I introduce the bloody-minded Icelanders

If your ancestors were marauders, you’re not likely to have qualms about keeping £3.6 billion of somebody else’s money.

Iceland’s threat to default on its debt to Britain should surprise no one. Icelanders are, by nature, intrinsically unreasonable. It is part of their charm and the secret of their survival. If the founders of that unique nation . . .

The national genetic records are precise. The men and women who want to repudiate the obligation to repay the loan are directly descended from the heroes of the sagas. When those marauding old Norsemen found that they had mistaken Venice for Constantinople, they sacked it anyway because sacking was their business. Their progeny are not going to feel many qualms about keeping £3.6 billion of somebody else’s money. by Roy Hattersely ~ Guest Contributor - 08-Jan-10.


How our readers stood up to the personal finance bullies

When you look back on 2009, what will you remember? Barack Obama’s inauguration, the panic over swine flu, the worst global recession for decades, the death of Michael Jackson?

Since January we have highlighted the cases of hundreds of readers who have faced financial crises. As the year draws to a close, we revisit a selection to find out how they have coped.

We also highlighted the plight of 1,600 savers who had about £120 million invested in Landsbanki Guernsey when the Channel Islands bank was placed into administration. They are a step closer to getting their money.  26-Dec-09

FSA under fire for lack of inquiry into Icelandic banks

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) will come under attack from MPs today for failing to carry out an inquiry after the collapse of Icelandic banks.

The Communities and Local Government Select Committee is furious that the FSA has chosen not to meet its demand for an investigation into losses suffered by local authorities with the banks.. .

Auditors have told councils that they can expect up to 80 per cent of the money back eventually, but no guarantees have been given and each Icelandic bank is operating separately. This means that at least £200 million is unlikely to be returned. The bulk of the cash — £630 million — went to Glitner Bank and Landsbanki, which have not started to process claims. 28-Oct-09.

Iceland steps up its inquiry into collapse of Kaupthing

Icelandic authorities have stepped up their investigations into the collapse of Kaupthing, the failed bank, amid speculation that Sigurdur Einarsson, the former executive chairman, has been made an official suspect.

Mr Einarsson, who lives in Chelsea, West London, is under investigation over market manipulation in the weeks leading up to the bank’s collapse a year ago. . .

Reports suggest that Mr Einarsson would be the second bank chief to be classed formally as a criminal suspect since the start of the banking crisis in Iceland. Bylgjan, an independent Icelandic radio channel, said yesterday that Sigurjon Arnason, the chief executive of Landsbanki, had also been classed as a formal suspect.  12-Oct-09.


The forgotten victims of the credit crunch

The panic may have subsided since last year, but many savers and investors are still fighting to reclaim their cash from collapsed banks. . .

A total of 1,600 savers — more than 90 per cent of them British — had about £120 million invested when the Channel Islands bank was placed in administration last October. Depositors have so far received about 55p in the pound from the administrators. The Guernsey authorities have promised nothing.

Matthew Dorman, a member of the Landsbanki Guernsey Depositors’ Action Group, says: “The administrator expects that the final repayment would be in the range of 70 to 80 per cent. But that would be far short of the 100 per cent that depositors in Landsbanki’s UK and Dutch arms received almost nine months ago.”

Mark Ashbey, another member of the action group, is horrified by Guernsey’s failure to support depositors. “It is truly incredible that affluent Guernsey is still the only country in the world that has refused to help stricken savers in any way,” he says. 26-Sep-09.


Spare a thought for offshore savers

They are the forgotten victims of the credit crunch — the people whom the Government has quietly filed in a box marked “ignore, no help required”. But help is exactly what they need. Thousands of savers who trusted their money to banks in the Isle of Man and Guernsey are still waiting to find out if they have lost a big chunk of their life savings. . .

Westminster’s refusal to grant compensation is understandable. In a Parliament obsessed with spending cuts, bailing out offshore savers is never going to be a priority. However, that does not mean that these victims should be abandoned. Pressure should be applied to the Isle of Man and Guernsey authorities to ensure that as much of their savings are returned as possible, as quickly as possible. To the Isle of Man’s credit, it does seem to be trying, but so far payouts from the island’s compensation scheme have been painfully slow.

However, even faint praise cannot be extended to the Guernsey authorities. Worried about the damage to the island’s reputation, it has belatedly introduced a hopelessly inadequate compensation scheme, but it is not open to the Landsbanki victims.  26-Sep-09.

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