The ‘puffin plot’ – a saga of international bankers and Icelandic greed

2017-03-29 23

In a formal signing ceremony 16 January 2003 a group of Icelandic investors and the German bank Hauck & Aufhäuser purchased shares in a publicly-owned Icelandic bank. Paul Gatti represented the German bank, proudly airing the intension of being a long-term owner together with the Icelandic businessman Ólafur Ólafsson. What neither Gatti nor Ólafsson mentioned was that earlier that same day, at a meeting abroad, their representatives had signed a secret contract guaranteeing that the Icelandic bank Kaupthing, called ‘puffin’ in their emails, would finance the H&A purchase in Búnaðarbanki. All profit would accrue to Ólafsson, in the end $100m he later split with Kaupthing’s other large shareholder, Lýður and Ágúst Guðmundsson. Thus, Ólafsson and the H&A bankers fooled Icelandic authorities with the diligent help of advisors from Société General. – This 14 year old saga has surfaced now thanks to the Panama Papers. What emerges is a story of deception similar to the famous al Thani story, which incidentally sent Ólafsson and some of the Kaupthing managers involved in the ‘puffin plot’ to prison in 2015. Ólafsson is however still a wealthy businessman in Iceland. ....

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Icelandic State Was Deceived in Bank Sale

Posted 31/03/2017 - 08:31 by anrigaut

2017-03-28 23

The German bank Hauck & Aufhäuser was never an actual investor in Búnaðarbankinn bank when the Icelandic State’s 45.8 percent stake in the latter was sold in January of 2003. This is the conclusion of the Special Investigation Commission (SIC) of Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, RÚV reports. SIC concludes that authorities were systematically deceived leading up to and following the sale.

A press release from the committee states that detailed written documents indisputably show that the German bank, Kaupþing hf. In Iceland, Kaupthing Bank in Luxembourg, and a group of men working for and on behalf of investor Ólafur Ólafsson used secret agreements to hide the true ownership of shares attributed to Hauck & Aufhäuser. The actual owner was instead the offshore company Welling & Partners, registered on Tortola, the British Virgin Islands. With numerous secret agreements and transfers of funds, among others from Kaupþing hf. to an account of Welling & Partners at Hauck & Aufhäuser, the German bank was guaranteed indemnity in the deal with Búnaðarbankinn.

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Iceland to sentence ninth banker found guilty of market manipulation

Posted 07/10/2016 - 10:53 by anrigaut

2016-10-06 23

Iceland has differed from the rest of Europe and the US by allowing bankers to be prosecuted as criminals

Iceland has found nine senior bankers guilty for crimes relating to the economic meltdown in 2008.

The Supreme Court in Reykjavik returned guilty verdicts for all nine defendants in the Kaupthing Bank market manipulation case, one of the biggest cases of its kind in Iceland's history.

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Iceland finds all guilty in banker market-abuse case

Posted 07/10/2016 - 10:41 by anrigaut

2016-10-05 23

Iceland’s Supreme Court has returned a guilty verdict for all nine defendants in the Kaupþing market manipulation case, the court trial for which began in April 2015.

Back in June last year, the Reykjavik District Court found seven of the nine defendants guilty, acquitting two.

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Supreme Court Hears Kaupþing Case

Posted 19/09/2016 - 13:55 by anrigaut

2016-09-08 23

Hearings began in the Icelandic Supreme Court in the Kaupþing bank market manipulation case at 8 am today, Vísir reports. This is one of the largest economic crimes to reach Icelandic courts, but altogether nine people are accused in the case, for market manipulation and/or breach of trust between November 1, 2007, and October 8, 2008.

Among the accused are Kaupþing’s leaders before the 2008 financial crisis: Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson, former director of the bank, Sigurður Einarsson, former board director and Ingólfur Helgason who directed the bank in Iceland.

All three received sentences without probation in the Reykjavík District Court in June last year. At the time, four others received sentences with probation, and one woman was acquitted. Some charges against the bank’s director in Luxembourg, Magnús Guðmundsson, were dismissed, but he was acquitted of others.


[The prosecutor] would like to see all those accused in the case sentenced and a heavier sentence for those who were found guilty in district court. Furthermore, he would like to see the dismissed charges against Magnús Guðmundsson reconsidered.

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Iceland following the Panama exposé

Posted 04/04/2016 - 09:24 by anrigaut

2016-04-02 23

Together with leaders from Russia, Ukraine and a few other countries Iceland isn’t happy to compare itself with the story of prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson played a key role in tonight’s exposure of the Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. Documents shown do not support his earlier version of his involvement with Wintris, the BVI linked to him and his wife.

In an interview on Rúv professor of history and a frequent commentator on the collapse and related matters Guðni Th. Johannesson said: “First and foremost I find it sad that men, who want to and claim they want to lead by good example, who say the grand plan is to believe in Iceland then decide that their money is better off elsewhere.” – His words are directed to the prime minister who repeatedly has talk of the necessity to believe in Iceland.


During the boom years Iceland turned into possibly the most offshorised country in the world as I’ve pointed out earlier. Iceland has done remarkably well following the collapse in autumn 2008 but the economic revival will have its limits if its political class prefers to be compared to Russia and Ukraine.

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Acquittal of Icelandic bankers appealed

Posted 07/03/2016 - 20:15 by anrigaut

2016-03-07 (All day)

Iceland’s public prosecutor has lodged an appeal against the acquittal of three senior Icelandic bankers cleared of lending unauthorised money back in January.

In a case with has become known in Iceland as the ‘Chesterfield case’ – after the name of one of the companies receiving money from the now-defunct Kaupþing bank – three of the bank’s senior executives were cleared of breach of trust charges in a “shock” acquittal by Reykjavik District Court.

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“Shock” acquittal of Icelandic bankers

Posted 26/01/2016 - 13:01 by anrigaut

2016-01-26 (All day)

Three senior executives of Iceland’s now defunct Kaupþing bank accused of lending unauthorised money have been cleared of all charges by a Reykjavik court this morning.

Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson (former Director of the bank), Sigurður Einarsson (former board chairman) and Magnús Guðmundsson (former CEO of Kaupthing Luxembourg) were charged with breach of trust after lending over €500 million to two foreign companies in 2008 without authorisation from the bank’s lending committee.

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2 billion dollar personal bankruptcy of former Kaupþing boss is the largest in Iceland’s history

Posted 08/01/2016 - 19:27 by anrigaut

2016-01-07 (All day)

The liquidation of the estate of Sigurður Einarsson, the former chairman of the board of failed bank Kaupþing, has been completed the local news site reports. Creditors, which included Deutsche Bank and the Icelandic bank, Arion, which was created on the ruins of failed bank Kaupþing. Total claims on the estate exceeded 250 billion ISK, which comes to nearly 2 billion USD.

Only a small fraction of the claims were fulfilled, as Sigurður’s estate was found to be worth only 38.3 million ISK (290,000 USD/270,000 EUR), an amount which pales in comparison to the 254.4 billion ISK claims (1.96 billion USD/1.8 billion EUR). The trustee of the estate described it as worthless in an interview with the local newspaper DV. “As there were no assets in the estate we did not assess the validity of the claims made on the estate. These are simply claims that the creditors believe they have on Sigurður.”

Sigurður declared personal bankruptcy in September of 2015. ......

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Press release: White & Case Advises Kaupthing on Landmark Restructuring

Posted 24/12/2015 - 15:43 by anrigaut

2015-12-23 (All day)

Global law firm White & Case LLP has advised Icelandic bank Kaupthing hf. on its restructuring, which is effective from December 23, 2015.


With priority creditors having already been paid, and subject only to receiving certain exemptions from capital controls upon delivery of an agreed stability contribution to the Icelandic authorities, the successful restructuring will enable the distribution of billions of euros in cash, as well as other instruments, to senior unsecured creditors. It will also facilitate those creditors taking control of the company and its remaining assets. Completing the restructuring before the end of 2015 also ensures that Kaupthing is not subject to an Icelandic stability tax on its assets, preserving value for creditors.


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