guardian.co.uk

Karen Millen questioned in connection with Kaupthing inquiries

Posted 14/03/2012 - 17:53 by anrigaut

2012-03-13 (All day)

"Fashion designer Karen Millen is among about a dozen UK-based entrepreneurs and investment bankers questioned by criminal prosecutors from Reykjavik during a week-long visit to London, in connection with several inquiries into alleged market manipulation at the failed Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

In common with all those questioned, Millen is not believed to be a suspect but may have become unwittingly involved in trades in which market manipulation was allegedly orchestrated by top bosses at the bank. Bank managers deny wrongdoing.

...

At the heart of the investigation are offshore investment vehicles stuffed with loans from Kaupthing that were nominally controlled by a handful of Kaupthing's largest clients, including Millen and Stanford. Investigators are looking at whether these vehicles were in fact used by Kaupthing executives to manipulate the price of CDSs and give a false impression of market confidence in the bank."

See also Sigrun Davidsdottir's Icelog: http://uti.is/2012/03/1455/

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How private homes are now being investigated by SFO

Posted 27/01/2010 - 12:08 by glen07

2010-01-25 13

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jan/26/sfo-raids-icelandic-firms

Icelandic tycoons at centre of SFO raids

Serious Fraud Office carries out series of raids on offices of firms linked to Lýdur and Ágúst Gudmundsson

  • guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 26 January 2010 20.37 GMT

Simon Bowers

The Serious Fraud Office and counterparts from Iceland carried out a series of co-ordinated raids today on the offices of companies linked to Icelandic tycoons Lýdur and Ágúst Gudmundsson, including the Lincolnshire headquarters of Bakkavor, one of Britain's largest chilled food suppliers.

Before the banking sector meltdown brought the small north Atlantic island's economy to its knees in October 2008 the Gudmundsson brothers, both of whom have homes in Belgravia, were among Iceland's most influential and wealthy entrepreneurs. The holding company Exista, in which they hold a near-45% stake, was the largest shareholder in Kaupthing, Iceland's biggest bank, before its collapse.

But yesterday's raids are understood to be focused on other alleged activities at Exista. Among the actions under scrutiny is the sale of a major stake in Bakkavor by Exista to the Gudmundsson brothers shortly after the banking meltdown.

Raids in the UK were conducted by the SFO and British police at four addresses, including Exista offices in Paddington, at the request of Icelandic prosecutors and do not relate to investigations being pursued by UK authorities. Inquiries were sparked in part by a dossier on Exista that was passed to criminal prosecutors by administrators to Kaupthing.

Intelligence exchanges between the SFO and the Office of Iceland's Special Prosecutor Ólafur Hauksson have been building for months, but searches at UK addresses mark a new level of collaboration. Hauksson said he expected more UK raids to follow, relating to other inquiries in Iceland.

Meanwhile, Hauksson's team today carried out simultaneous raids at eight addresses in Iceland linked to Exista. In addition to their own lines of investigation, Icelandic prosecutors were carrying out a formal search request from the SFO relating to their inquiry into past activities at British sportswear retailer JJB.

A joint venture between Exista and businessman Chris Ronnie jointly acquired a 29% stake in 2007 in a deal financed by Kaupthing. Ronnie was later appointed to the JJB board, quickly becoming chief executive. He was suspended last year after it emerged the stake had been seized by administrators to Kaupthing.

The SFO announced in September that it is investigating suspected criminal price-fixing and fraud in the sportwear retail industry. It is focusing its attention on Sports Direct as well as JJB. JJB has negotiated immunity in exchange for whistle-blowing co-operation.

Bakkavor, the launchpad for the Gudmundsson brothers, began as a sleepy fish roe processing firm. In a series of Kaupthing-brokered takeovers in the UK it swallowed Katsouris Fresh Foods — a company five times its size in 2001, and four years later bought Geest,making it one of the largest suppliers of ready meals, pizzas, desserts and sliced fruit to Britain's supermarkets. A year later Laurens Patisseries was acquired from serial entrepreneur Andreas Liveras.

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How private homes are now being investigated by SFO

Posted 27/01/2010 - 12:08 by glen07

2010-01-25 13

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jan/26/sfo-raids-icelandic-firms

Icelandic tycoons at centre of SFO raids

Serious Fraud Office carries out series of raids on offices of firms linked to Lýdur and Ágúst Gudmundsson

  • guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 26 January 2010 20.37 GMT

Simon Bowers

The Serious Fraud Office and counterparts from Iceland carried out a series of co-ordinated raids today on the offices of companies linked to Icelandic tycoons Lýdur and Ágúst Gudmundsson, including the Lincolnshire headquarters of Bakkavor, one of Britain's largest chilled food suppliers.

Before the banking sector meltdown brought the small north Atlantic island's economy to its knees in October 2008 the Gudmundsson brothers, both of whom have homes in Belgravia, were among Iceland's most influential and wealthy entrepreneurs. The holding company Exista, in which they hold a near-45% stake, was the largest shareholder in Kaupthing, Iceland's biggest bank, before its collapse.

But yesterday's raids are understood to be focused on other alleged activities at Exista. Among the actions under scrutiny is the sale of a major stake in Bakkavor by Exista to the Gudmundsson brothers shortly after the banking meltdown.

Raids in the UK were conducted by the SFO and British police at four addresses, including Exista offices in Paddington, at the request of Icelandic prosecutors and do not relate to investigations being pursued by UK authorities. Inquiries were sparked in part by a dossier on Exista that was passed to criminal prosecutors by administrators to Kaupthing.

Intelligence exchanges between the SFO and the Office of Iceland's Special Prosecutor Ólafur Hauksson have been building for months, but searches at UK addresses mark a new level of collaboration. Hauksson said he expected more UK raids to follow, relating to other inquiries in Iceland.

Meanwhile, Hauksson's team today carried out simultaneous raids at eight addresses in Iceland linked to Exista. In addition to their own lines of investigation, Icelandic prosecutors were carrying out a formal search request from the SFO relating to their inquiry into past activities at British sportswear retailer JJB.

A joint venture between Exista and businessman Chris Ronnie jointly acquired a 29% stake in 2007 in a deal financed by Kaupthing. Ronnie was later appointed to the JJB board, quickly becoming chief executive. He was suspended last year after it emerged the stake had been seized by administrators to Kaupthing.

The SFO announced in September that it is investigating suspected criminal price-fixing and fraud in the sportwear retail industry. It is focusing its attention on Sports Direct as well as JJB. JJB has negotiated immunity in exchange for whistle-blowing co-operation.

Bakkavor, the launchpad for the Gudmundsson brothers, began as a sleepy fish roe processing firm. In a series of Kaupthing-brokered takeovers in the UK it swallowed Katsouris Fresh Foods — a company five times its size in 2001, and four years later bought Geest,making it one of the largest suppliers of ready meals, pizzas, desserts and sliced fruit to Britain's supermarkets. A year later Laurens Patisseries was acquired from serial entrepreneur Andreas Liveras.

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Creditors meet to learn cost of Kaupthing's loans

Posted 01/12/2008 - 01:31 by steveejeb

2008-12-01 (All day)

Yachts and private jets are exactly what well-heeled customers of the Café Royal would be expected to own. Indeed, these playthings of the rich and famous will be the subject of discussion in the venue's plush surroundings today.

But the talk will not be so much about exotic holidays on fabulous yachts reached by private airplanes but about the loans handed out by a collapsed Icelandic bank to buy them.

Creditors are scheduled to attend a meeting at the Piccadilly venue to learn about their chances of recouping losses from the British arm of Kaupthing - known as Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander (KSF).

Kaupthing is one of three banks to have been seized by the authorities on the north Atlantic island that once prospered on the back of the financial engineering that dominated the credit boom but has since been hit by the unravelling of the global financial system.

Documents sent to creditors before the meeting with administrator Ernst & Young show how KSF capitalised upon the boom times. Some £300m of its loans were granted for yachts and aviation - a quarter of all loans granted by the group's private banking operation.

KSF's private bank had 400 customers who were loaned a total of £1.2bn. The largest single component of the private bank loan book - 33% - is exposed to British properties.

KSF also had a £824m corporate book, where a quarter of all loans have turned sour, and a £937m property book, where 11% of the loans are on its recoveries list.

More........

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Darling accused of Not Warning UK Institutions Of Icelandic Melt Down

Posted 30/11/2008 - 01:46 by steveejeb

2008-11-30 (All day)

.............The news comes as Chancellor Alistair Darling is under fire from the Liberal Democrats as to how much the government knew about the parlous state of Iceland's finances in the run-up to the financial crisis.

Lib Dem Treasury spokesman Vince Cable wrote to Darling after it emerged he held talks with the Icelandic finance minister over the crisis in the summer. Cable asked him to explain why he didn't warn UK institutions their investments could be under threat, and still hasn't received a reply. Lord Oakeshott, the Lib Dem's Treasury spokesman in the Lords, said: 'Mr Darling can't be bothered to reply to questions about hundreds of millions of British cash trapped in bust Icelandic banks.'

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Germany, UK, Netherlands to work with Iceland to 'ensure it meets its obligations to depositors'

Posted 20/11/2008 - 10:31 by vikingvictim

2008-11-20 (All day)

BERLIN, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands welcomed in a joint statement on Thursday a $2.1 billion IMF loan to stabilise Iceland and said they would work with Iceland to ensure it met its obligations to depositors.
"In supporting the IMF programme today the UK, Netherlands and Germany welcome Iceland's commitment to meet its obligations to depositors and ensure the fair, equal and non-discriminatory treatment of creditors," the countries said in a statement provided by the German finance ministry.
"As part of the international support for Iceland the UK, Netherlands and Germany will work constructively in the continuing discussions with Iceland to conclude agreements on pre-financing that enables Iceland to meet its obligations towards depositors shortly," the statement concluded.

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The UK is blocking Iceland's application to the IMF, but why won't it let the the European court of justice settle the dispute?

2008-11-11 (All day)

In an effort to resolve the issue, the Icelandic government has offered to bring the dispute for the European court of justice. But for some strange reason the UK government does not want the courts to see the case, but rather uses its muscle in international forums to force Iceland to agree to their own home-made understanding of the law.
Another aspect of this dispute to keep in mind is that when the UK government took the unprecedented and illegal action to invoke anti-terrorist laws to freeze, not only the assets of Landsbanki in the UK, but also for a while all Icelandic assets in the country, it by default took over Landsbanki's obligation in the UK – including payments out of the Icesave accounts. Neither the former owners of Landsbanki nor the Icelandic government have since been able to dissolve the bank's assets in the UK to pay depositors. It is therefore especially remarkable that the UK government has not been willing to let the courts decide this legal dispute

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Alistair Darling, Mervyn King and Lord Turner quizzed by MPs

Posted 04/11/2008 - 10:37 by horace

2008-11-03 (All day)

Extract:

6:04pm: The committee moves on to the issue of the Icelandic bank.

Darling again defends the steps he took to protect British taxpayers.

"Iceland has been having problems for some time," he says.

Asked about depositors from the Isle of Man, Darling indicates that his obligation is only to people who put their deposits in UK branches.

Michael Fallon, the committee's deputy chairman, accuses the chancellor of "washing his hands" of the people of the Isle of Man. Darling rejects this.

The chancellor says that one thing this situation has shown is "we need to have a long hard look at the relationship between this country and the Isle of Man, a tax haven".

There would be "no knee-jerk reaction" but Darling adds: "It is something this committee might want to look into."

And with that the evidence session was brought to a close.

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It's Iceland's own mess

Posted 26/10/2008 - 20:10 by C_south_africa

2008-10-24 23

In the banking crisis Icelanders had been venting their wrath on the British government, but the blame lies nearer home
Geir Rafnsson guardian.co.uk, Saturday October 25 2008
......................................The government's distraction tactics have been hugely successful. The Icelandic public have now rallied behind their leaders, signing a petition to protest against being called terrorists. More than 42,000 people (last time I looked) are offended that one of the institutions that have practically bankrupted their nation appeared on a UK list of criminal/terrorist organisations and its assets have been frozen. Perhaps Iceland should create its own dangerous organisations list and put all three banks on it. To date I have found no reference to the Icelandic public being called terrorists.

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