(Reuters) - Iceland will honour its promise to repay the Netherlands money that Dutch savers lost in the online accounts of a failed Icelandic bank, Iceland's finance minister said in a newspaper interview on Saturday.
Steingrimur Sigfusson told De Telegraaf, the Netherlands' largest newspaper, that the Dutch people had nothing to fear. "The Netherlands can rest easy. Their money really will be returned," Sigfusson told the paper. The British and Dutch governments want Reykjavik to return money paid to depositors whose funds were frozen in so-called "Icesave" accounts operated by Landsbanki, which collapsed along with Iceland's other main commercial banks in 2008. 18-Sep-10.
Steingrimur Sigfusson told De Telegraaf, the Netherlands' largest newspaper, that the Dutch people had nothing to fear.
"The Netherlands can rest easy. Their money really will be returned," Sigfusson told the paper.
The British and Dutch governments want Reykjavik to return money paid to depositors whose funds were frozen in so-called "Icesave" accounts operated by Landsbanki, which collapsed along with Iceland's other main commercial banks in 2008. 18-Sep-10.
The United States have not had an ambassador in Iceland since spring 2009. In April 2010 President Obama appointed Luis E. Arreaga Rhodas as ambassador in Iceland. . . This is because of an insult to the previous US ambassador by President Ólafur Ragnar Grímssson. . .
The reason for a long period of official chill between Iceland is rooted in the event last year when the President of Iceland, Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, announced to her on April 8 that she would be honored with the Order of the Falcon, the highest recognition of the Icelandic state. When Ambassador von Voorst was on her way to the presidential residence Bessastadir to formally accept the Order, she received a phone call explaining that the announcement had been sent by mistake and that she would not receive the Order after all . . .
Grímsson allegedly explained to her that only those who were deemed worthy were honored this way. In the past decades, three US Ambassadors to Iceland have received the Order of the Falcon.
President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson did present the Order of the Falcon to Björgólfur Gudmundsson, then chairman and owner of Landsbanki. . . Mr. Gudmundsson was deemed worthy. 13-Sep-10.
A special investigation committee, known popularly as the Truth Commission, recommended that Geir Haarde, the former prime minister, stand trial, along with Björgvin Sigurdsson, the former minister of commerce, and Árni Mathiesen, the former minister of finance.
It found during an 18-month inquiry that the three men showed recklessness in their handling of Iceland's financial crisis, which brought down its three banks and crippled the currency in October 2008 . . .
Johanna Sigurdardottir, Iceland's left-leaning Prime Minister, called the report's conclusions "a serious accusation against our political system, our politicians, the parliament, stock market". 12-Sep-10.
Sept. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Iceland's parliament must decide whether to charge leading members of the country's 2008 cabinet with negligence that contributed to the island's banking collapse after a committee recommended they be indicted.
The parliamentary committee will ask the Reykjavik-based legislature to indict former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde, former Foreign Minister Ingibjorg Solrun Gisladottir, former Finance Minister Arni M. Mathiesen and former Business Minister Bjorgvin G. Sigurdsson, according to a written motion delivered to lawmakers today. . .
Iceland will come under pressure to resolve the dispute over Icesave accounts and overhaul its fishing policies in talks to join the European Union that are scheduled to start next week, a draft EU document showed.
Negotiations are slated to begin on July 27 as Britain and the Netherlands seek compensation for losses of as much as $5.1 billion suffered by their investors in the 2008 collapse of Landsbanki Islands hf, which offered the high-yielding Icesave Internet accounts. . .
While the EU draft doesn’t mention the bank-compensation clash, it points out that any EU country could halt the talks at any time. The draft also doesn’t explicitly call on Iceland to give up whale hunting, a demand made by the European Parliament in a non-binding resolution this month. 22-Jul-10.
Representatives of Iceland, Britain and the Netherlands met in Reykjavik this week to prepare further talks on a new repayment deal to cover the collapse of the Icesave bank, the Icelandic government said Friday. . .
"The purpose of the meetings was primarily to exchange information and to prepare further talks later this year," it said, pointing out that "this is the first time the parties meet since the talks were adjourned on March 5." 02-Jul-10.
A group of international banks has filed a legal challenge against the Landsbanki dissolution committee claiming that they should be treated as priority claimants. If they win, only 30-35 percent of the bank’s assets will go to pay Icesave.
According to Old Landsbanki, Iceland’s emergency banking laws allow the bank to classify the Dutch and British depositors’ insurance funds as priority claimants; but other creditors to the bankrupt bank, including big banks and bondholders, have decided to challenge the decision in court under Iceland’s bankruptcy laws. 29-May-10.
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) yesterday sent a letter outlining its decision that Iceland is legally bound to insure the minimum deposit guarantee to British and Dutch Icesave account holders. The guarantee is part of Iceland’s EEA (European Economic Area) membership agreement.
The minimum depositors’ guarantee is EUR 20,000 per saver in the failed Icesave internet savings accounts which were run as a branch of Landsbanki before it collapsed in autumn 2008. The EFTA report states that the UK and the Netherlands have reimbursed their own savers and that Iceland’s severe recession does not diminish the country’s obligation to pay the two governments back.
The Icelandic government had insisted in a letter to the EFTA that the existence of a depositors’ guarantee fund in the country was enough to fulfil the requirements of the EU directive on cross border banking and also that the rules do not fully apply in the case of the collapse of an entire national banking system (as happened in Iceland). The EFTA disagrees with this reading of European law. 27-May-10.
It’s as if Icesave has completely evaporated from the agenda in the three countries involved – Iceland, the UK and the Netherlands – but the accounts haven’t yet be settled. Iceland still owes money to the UK and the Netherlands as the two countries compensated the deposit holders according the EU insurance guarantee regulation.
The IMF has recently passed fund’s programme on Iceland to the next level. The prerequisite had been to solve the Icesave dispute – since it is a major economic variable – but Iceland found a way to satisfy the fund’s demand though nothing has been resolved. As so often, Iceland seems hell-bent on wriggling out of the Icesave fetters rather than solving the matter. It remains to be seen how the matter evolves now that there is a new government in place in the UK. Sigrúm Davidsdóttir's Icelog Blog - 19-May-19.
A US-based journalist has interviewed islanders who lost money in the Landsbanki collapse for a book about the global financial crisis.
Michael Casey, who writes for Dow Jones and the Wall Street Journal, was in the island yesterday and also spoke to Chief Minister Lyndon Trott and Treasury minister Charles Parkinson.
Mr Casey (pictured) said he wanted to focus his book on the human stories that have come out of the financial crisis and show how all parts of the world were affected by it because they were linked. 19-May-10.