Arrest of CE Sigurdsson of Kaupthing Bank

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Posted: Fri, 07/05/2010 - 12:46

CE Sigurdsson of Kaupthing Bank might like to ponder why Stanford and Madoff gave themselves up to the police, perhaps it was not safe for them to be free.

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Former CEO of Iceland’s Kaupthing Freed from Custody

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  • Wed, 19/05/2010 - 03:20

18/05/2010 | 11:30

Former CEO of Iceland’s Kaupthing Freed from Custody

Hreidar Már Sigurdsson, former CEO of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing, was released from custody yesterday along with Ingólfur Helgason, former director of Kaupthing in Iceland. However, they are both on a travel ban until May 27.

The headquarters of Kaupthing, now Arion Bank, in Reykjavík. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

Sigurdsson had been sentenced to 12 days in custody and Helgason to seven days. In both instances the custody ruling was based on the interest of the special prosecutor’s investigation. The custody over both men was supposed to expire today, reports.

Special Prosecutor Ólafur Thór Hauksson reasoned that it is no longer in the interest of the investigation that Sigurdsson and Helgason remain behind bars, although it is important that they remain in the country.

Sigurdsson has appealed the travel ban ruling to the Supreme Court.

Hauksson told Fréttabladid, that although the custody over Sigurdsson and Helgason was not extended, the investigation of this case is far from over.

Magnús Gudmundsson, former director of Kaupthing in Luxembourg, was released from custody last week but is now also on a travel ban.

Steingrímur P. Kárason, former director of Kaupthing’s risk management, is also on a travel ban. He was never in custody.

According to Fréttabladid, the bank’s former chair, Sigurdur Einarsson, has yet to be questioned in relation to this case.

Einarsson lives in London and refuses to come to Iceland for questioning. Hauksson has issued a warrant for his arrest and Einarsson is now wanted by Interpol.

Eva Joly defends Iceland banking arrests

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  • Tue, 18/05/2010 - 13:16

Eva Joly defends Iceland banking arrests

Posted on17 May 2010.

Eva Joly, adviser to Iceland’s Special Prosecutor for the banking crisis, believes the investigation can be completed within four years, if the office is provided with 80 staff members. With a smaller team, the investigation will take longer, she told RUV.

Joly said she is happy with the progress of the investigation so far and answered critics’ questions about the legality of the recent arrests robustly.

Eva Joly said that the arrests and interrogations over recent days came at the correct time. Critics’ claims that the actions were only taken to appease public demands for action do not stand up to scrutiny, she said.

The two sides in the argument have different privileges because those under investigation can talk freely with the media and present their cases, but the Special Prosecutor needs to remain quiet so as not to reveal important evidence that will be needed in court. The public must just continue to show patience and have faith that everything will be made public at the first opportunity, but not before cases go to trial.

She criticised the opinion of Sigurdur Einarsson, the former chairman of Kaupthing, saying that if he really has nothing to hide then he has no need to fear the investigation.

Joly said that the investigations could take as little as four years to complete with 80 staff. 30 people currently work for the Special Prosecutor.

More alleged dodgy dealings

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  • Thu, 13/05/2010 - 23:41

Icelandic editor resigns under a cloud

Posted on12 May 2010. Tags: Bylgjan, Iceland, media, óskar hrafn Þorvaldsson, stöð 2, Ví

gavel1Oskar Hrafn Thorvaldsson, the News Director at Stod 2 TV, Bylgjan Radio and the news website has resigned over a news story released last July.

Thorvaldsson called a last-minute staff meeting yesterday morning to bid his journalists farewell. The resignation is said to come directly because of yesterday’s formal withdrawal of a news story from last summer on in the wake of a recent court ruling. The original story concerned alleged transfers of large sums of money out of Iceland immediately before the banking collapse by father-son businessmen Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson and other close parties., Stod 2 and Bylgjan are all owned by 365 Media, which is owned by the family of Jon Asgeir Johannesson. Johannesson’s wife, Ingibjorg Palmadottir is registered as the company’s biggest shareholder.

Stod 2 has been (perhaps) surprisingly quick to criticise its owners and their business dealings. Even this week, Stod 2 and Visir were reporting that tax authorities have completed freezing Jon Asgeir and other FL Group former owners’ assets after promising to do so earlier this year.

Two weeks ago Stod 2 reported on two 10-year bullet loans allegedly obtained by 365 Media owners secured on already over-leveraged property. The loans equalled ISK 440 million (USD 3.4 million). The news outlets’ owners responded harshly to the news and Jon Asgeir described it as an outright lie.

Given Oskar Hrafn Thorvaldsson’s turbulent relationship with his employers, he could not expect their unequivocal support and so decided to resign. The question is now, who will replace him?

Jon Asgeir Johannesson: 48 hours to Stay out of Jail

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  • Thu, 13/05/2010 - 23:44

13/05/2010 | 14:24

Jon Asgeir Johannesson: 48 hours to Stay out of Jail
Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson now has 48 hours to provide an exhaustive list of his assets or risk jail. According to various icelandic sources Jóhannesson's lawers in London received a subpoena on Thursday afternoon. His wife Ingibjörg Pálmadóttir told Fréttabladid in an interview yesterday, that they knew no more than the journalist about the case. “We had to follow the press conference of the winding-up board to fill in the gaps. ... We are trying to find out what is going on. This is weird. If you [the journalist interviewing her] can tell us something I would welcome that. This is a huge case, the sums of money are unbelievable. We know as little as you do. We .. I don’t know anything,“ Pálmadóttir said.

Jon Asgeir Johannesson, photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland Review

Another businessman named in the suit, Pálmi Haraldsson, owner of Iceland Express, told Fréttabladid that the lawsuit was “full of nonsense.” Haraldsson was named as a former board member of Glitnir, which was incorrect. “I am speechless. One should expect that such a case would be built on logic and truth.” Yesterday Haraldsson threatened to sue the winding-up board because of false accusations.
Other individuals named in the lawsuit are former chairman of Glitnir Thorsteinn M. Jónsson, former Glitnir CEO Lárus Welding, Jón Sigurdsson, CEO of FL Group and former FL Group CEO Hannes Smárason.

Hannes Smárason. Photo: Páll Stefánsson/Iceland review

Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson, a former leading shareholder in Glitnir and once a big investor in the UK retail sector, is alleged in the lawsuit to have conspired with associates to “fraudulently drain over $2bn out of the bank to fill their pockets and prop up their own failing companies.”

“There is evidence supporting the allegation that Glitnir bank was robbed from the inside,” said Steinunn Gudbjartsdóttir, who chairs the Glitnir winding-up board.

Mr Jóhannesson has denied the allegations. “It's just politics,” he told Bloomberg yesterday. “I have full proof that we were repaying loans that were maturing 20 to 40 days later. This was just the refinancing of older loans.” He claimed that David Oddsson, the former Prime Minister of Iceland, was behind the case. Oddsson, who is now editor of Morgunbladid, is not known to have any connection to the winding-up committee.

The lawsuit is adding pressure on the Viking Raiders who controlled Iceland's three main banks - Glitnir, Kaupthing and Landsbanki - and a range of high-profile foreign assets until their empires crumbled in October 2008.

Icelandic authorities last week arrested Hreidar Már Sigurdsson, former chief executive of Kaupthing, on suspicion of offences including embezzlement, falsifying documents and stock and bond trading violations, in the most high-profile move so far by prosecutors investing possible wrongdoing in Iceland's banks. An arrest warrant was this week issued for Sigurdur Einarsson, Kaupthing's former chairman, and circulated by Interpol. So far Einarsson, who is staying in his Chelsea apartment in London, has not been arrested.

Glitnir said its lawsuit was based on a year-long probe by Kroll, the corporate intelligence company. It has passed on its findings to Icelandic prosecutors.

The lawsuit was filed in the Supreme Court of New York state (Glitnir Bank hf v. Johannesson, 601217/2010, New York state Supreme Court (Manhattan)) , where Glitnir said many of its creditors were based. Central to the case is a $1bn bond issue in 2007 in which US investors were allegedly misled over Glitnir's financial exposures.

Jóhannesson, who is still a director of House of Fraser and chairman of the Iceland frozen foods chain, was also hit with a global asset freeze order, giving him 48 hours to hand over a list of what he owns.

The lawsuit alleges: “A cabal of businessmen led by convicted white-collar criminal Jon Asgeir Johannesson, engaged in a sweeping conspiracy to wrest control of Iceland's Glitnir Bank to fill their pockets and prop up their own failing companies.”

“The individuals siphoned money out of Glitnir at the worst possible time for the bank . Having depleted Glitnir's cash reserves after April 2007 by engaging in heavy and improper lending to entities that they controlled, the individual defendants left Glitnir heavily exposed to the global credit crunch.”

The suit also accuses Mr Johannesson and his co-defendants of staffing the bank with their “willing accomplices”, ignoring the risk committee and concealing their self-dealing with “a blizzard of controlled companies.”

The noose is starting to tighten

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  • Thu, 13/05/2010 - 23:50

Well this seems to be the first court case to emerge as news of alleged insider trading and siphoning of funds by bank officials becomes more apparent in the Icelandic banks. One wonders what other court cases are now going to emerge over misleading statements of financial exposure, banking procedures, loans, etc....

Iceland Glitnir Bank investors sued for siphoning $2 billion

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  • Thu, 13/05/2010 - 23:38

Iceland Glitnir Bank investors sued for siphoning $2 billion

Posted on12 May 2010. Tags: Glitnir Bank, global economic crisis, Iceland, Iceland Bank, Jon Asgeir Johannesson

glitnir_logo65Seven Giltnir Bank investors and officials, including Jon Asgeir Johannesson, are being sued for conspiring to snatch control of USD 2 billion to benefit their own “failing companies,” Reuters reports.

According to the complaint filed in the New York State Supreme Court, the seven defendants led by investor Jon Asgeir Johannesson, financed the scheme of USD 2 billion by relying on funds that Glitnir raised in 2007, and then selling USD 1 billion of medium-term notes to investors across the U.S.

The complaint was filed a little over 18 months after Icelandic regulators took control of Glitnir, as well as Iceland’s two other largest banks, in the wake of the global economic crisis. In November 2008, Glitnir then went into insolvency proceedings.

Those accused also include Johannesson’s wife, Ingibjorg Stefania Palmadottir, investor Palmi Haraldsson, former Chairman Thorsteinn Jonsson, former Chief Executive Larus Welding, former directors Jon Sigurdsson and Hannes Smarason.

In addition to the New York proceedings, Glitnir has also succeeded in imposing a worldwide freeze on all Johannesson’s assets. This move in a London court echoes an Iceland-only freeze imposed earlier this week.

There will be a press conference with Giltnir’s insolvency committee at 14.30 GMT today.

Glitnir joins Kaupthing as Icelandic bankers come under scrutiny

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  • Thu, 13/05/2010 - 23:36

Glitnir joins Kaupthing as Icelandic bankers come under further scrutiny

Posted on12 May 2010. Tags: banking, Glitnir, Iceland, jon asgeir

glitnir-logoGlitnir Bank’s dissolution committee members today described what they called the robbery from within of the bank by Jon Asgeir Johannesson and his “clique”. Seven have already been served by a New York court and more will likely follow.

Glitnir Bank’s dissolution committee held a press conference today where details were given of the subpoenas issued in New York to seven former bosses and investors in the bank. Glitnir is also suing PricewaterhouseCoopers, RUV reports.

Iceland has already frozen the assets of Jon Asgeir Johannesson, Palmi Haraldsson and Thorsteinn M. Jonsson and a London court has ordered the freezing order on Jon Asgeir to be upheld internationally as well. He has not been formally served the papers yet, despite efforts to find him, dissolution committee chairwoman Steinunn Gudbjartsdottir said.

Jon Asgeir refused to give away where he currently is in a telephone interview with Bloomberg this afternoon, but described recent events as “a left hook” which it is pointless to spend millions of kronur trying to defend against – especially with all his assets frozen. “They have won,” he conceded; adding that it is all politics and not based on facts. Political figures including David Oddsson are behind the lawsuit, Johannesson believes.

Glitnir’s move to recoup cash from its former masters comes in the same week that Iceland’s Special Prosecutor began arresting key players from Kaupthing Bank. It is important to point out that Glitnir is pursuing civil actions, while the Special Prosecutor is a criminal investigator.

The Glitnir committee is handing all evidence over to the Special Prosecutor however, and criminal prosecutions could also take plac

More Iceland banking arrests likely

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  • Tue, 11/05/2010 - 19:28

More Iceland banking arrests likely

Posted on10 May 2010.

kaupþing1Further arrests of former Kaupthing bosses by Iceland’s Special Prosecutor into the banking collapse are considered likely in the near future.

Former Kaupthing CEO, Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson and Kaupthing Luxembour boss, Magnus Gudmundsson are both now sitting in the Litla Hraun prison awaiting trial. The Special Prosecutor’s investigation has uncovered regular serious criminal activity within the bank by senior figures in the lead up to the banking crisis.

Investigations into Kaupthing began shortly after the bank was taken over by the government in autumn 2008 and the Special Prosecutor has ordered several raids and searches over the last year in connection with the case. Among the things being investigated was the allegation of Kaupthing owners’ engaging in illegal market manipulation to support the bank’s share price.

Kaupthing loaned many billions of kronur to holding companies which then used the money to buy Kaupthing shares or bonds issued by the bank, reported.

The so-called Al-Thani issue falls into this category. Kaupthing loaned Sheik Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani ISK 25 billion in the summer of 2008 and the Sheik then bought a five percent stake in the bank. The shady deal is described as a show-trade and came shortly after Kaupthing bosses met to discuss the importance of getting new foreign investment.

Suspicious transfers of money from Kaupthing in Iceland to foreign accounts shortly before the bank’s demise are also a key element of the Special Prosecutor’s investigation. Little or no explanation for the transfers has been found so far. Undisclosed sources put the figure transferred overseas, mostly to Luxembourg, at around ISK 100 billion (USD 786.5 million at today’s exchange rate). Part of this sum is probably connected to the previously mentioned loans to buy shares.

Still more investigations into Kaupthing are in progress at the FME national financial regulator and have not been handed over to the Special Prosecutor yet. The Luxembourg-based Kaupthing daughter company, Black Sunshine is the subject of one such investigation.

Yet another day of Iceland banking arrests

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  • Tue, 11/05/2010 - 19:24

Yet another day of Iceland banking arrests

Posted on11 May 2010.

kaupþing2Ingolfur Helgason, the former Director of Kaupthing Iceland, and Steingrimur Karason, former CEO of the bank’s risk management department, were both arrested today upon arriving back in Iceland. They went straight to interrogation with the Special Prosecutor and are being held in police cells.

Helgason and Karason were both very near the top of the Kaupthing chain-of-command and worked closely with former Director, Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson and Sigurdur Einarsson, the former Chairman of the Board. It is not yet known whether the Special Prosecutor will allow the pair to be released, or if he will request that the Reykjavik District Court remand them in custody, as happened with Sigurdsson and Magnus Gudmundsson (former CEO of Kaupthing Luxembourg), reports.

Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson and Magnus Gudmundsson were arrested last Friday and remain in the Litla Hraun prison; but Sigurdur Einarsson has not obeyed the Special Prosecutor’s summons to return to Iceland for interrogation this Friday – despite a promise that he would not be arrested upon arrival. He has, however, invited the Special Prosecutor, Olafur Thor Hauksson to fly out and interrogate him in the UK.


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  • Wed, 12/05/2010 - 04:16

If he refuses to return voluntarily to Icelnd, then the Icelandic authorities should seek his extradition.


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  • Wed, 12/05/2010 - 08:16

It seems there now are. See

"Iceland Issues Warrant for Kaupthing Bank Ex-Chairman Einarsson"

Chairman of Kaupthing board keeping silent

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  • Sun, 09/05/2010 - 23:04

Chairman of Kaupthing board keeping silent

Posted on08 May 2010.

Sigurdur Einarsson, the former Chair of the Board at Kaupthing Bank, has not answered the Special Prosecutor’s request to return to Iceland quickly in connection with the arrests of two other senior bank fiugures.

No information is available on when Einarsson will return to Iceland.

Einarsson began at the bank in 1994, was its CEO in 1997 and Chiarman of the Board between 2003 and 2008. He is described by some as the architect of Kaupthing’s breakneck expansion. Einarsson has been living in London for a while, reports.

Sigurdur Einarsson has been invited to an interview with the Special Prosecutor next week; but it is not known if he will turn up. Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson and Magnus Gudmundsson were arrested this week immediately following such interviews.

Iceland arrests another Kaupthing boss

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  • Sat, 08/05/2010 - 07:14

Iceland arrests another Kaupthing boss

Posted on07 May 2010.

gavelMagnus Gudmundsson, the former head of Kaupthing Bank in Luxembourg and the current head of Banque Havilland, has also been arrested in connection to the Icelandic Special Prosecutor’s investigation into the banking collapse.

Former Kaupthing CEO Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson was also arrested yesterday.

Magnus Gudmundsson worked for Kaupthing for many years and was a close friend and ally of Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson and former Chair of the Board, Sugurdur Einarsson.

According to, both South Iceland prisons are full, meaning that the Kaupthing pair were held at a police station overnight, pending their bail hearing today.

Former CEO and former director of Kaupthing in custody

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  • Sat, 08/05/2010 - 07:08

Iceland review
07/05/2010 | 14:00

Former CEO of Iceland’s Kaupthing in Custody

Former CEO of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing, Hreidar Már Sigurdsson, was given a 12-day custody sentence in Reykjavík District Court today at the request of the Special Prosecutor’s Office. Magnús Gudmundsson, former director of Kaupthing in Luxembourg, was given a seven-day custody sentence, as stated on

The former Kaupthing directors are suspected of market abuse. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

The two former directors of Kaupthing are being held on suspicion of having organized trades worth almost ISK 100 billion (USD 770 million, EUR 600 million) with the purpose of increasing the value of stocks in the bank one month before it collapsed in October 2008, Fréttabladid reports.

Yesterday, Special Prosecutor Ólafur Thór Hauksson had Sigurdsson and Gudmundsson arrested after they had been brought in for questioning.

Both Sigurdsson and Gudmundsson spent the night in prison cells. This is the first time that the special prosecutor has requested custody of a suspect.

The suspects are also believed to have been in breach of authority, forged documents and committed various violations of the law on limited companies, most of which were undertaken in 2008.

The investigation of market abuse involves trade worth tens of billions of ISK with men such as Sheik Mohamed bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar, Skúli Thorvaldsson and Kevin Stanford.

Some details of these cases were not uncovered until the release of the report of the Special Investigative Committee on April 12, which partly explains why it hasn’t been requested until now that suspects be taken into custody.

According to Fréttabladid’s sources, the purpose of the custody is mainly to prevent suspects from influencing accomplices or witnesses.

It is also possible that documents that investigators have not seen yet might be deleted or damaged if suspects are freed from custody. However, there are no indications that evidence has been compromised so far.

Gudmundsson is currently the director of Banque Havilland in Luxembourg, which was established on the foundation of Kaupthing in that country. Banque Havilland is owned by an English family.

Sigurdsson runs the consulting company Consolium in Luxembourg with Ingólfur Helgason, among other partners, who used to run Kaupthing in Iceland.

Sigurdur Einarsson, former chairman of Kaupthing, has been called in for questioning next week. He is currently in London.

Click here to read more about the Al-Thani case and here to read more about the cases of Skúli Thorvaldsson and Kevin Stanford.

Of Oddssen, Freidman and Iceland

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  • Wed, 12/05/2010 - 06:51

Iris Erlingsdottir
Icelandic journalist and writer
March 9, 2009

"Milton [Friedman] is the embodiment of the truth that ideas have consequences." Donald Rumsfeld, in a speech at Milton Friedman's 90th birthday party in 2002, held by the Bush White House to honor Friedman's legacy.

In autumn 1984, the Icelandic Libertarian Association arranged for American economist Milton Friedman to visit Iceland. During this visit, Friedman gave a lecture at the University of Iceland on the "Tyranny of the Status Quo," and debated the country's leading socialist intellectuals--including current president Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. This visit made a great impact on several young members of the Independence Party, including Davíð Oddsson, Hannes Hólmsteinn Gissurarson, and Geir Haarde.
Not content to sit on the sidelines, these men took action to break the government's total control over Iceland's media, fisheries, and banks. Hannes Hólmsteinn operated an illegal radio station, to protest against the government monopoly of broadcasting, and wrote an influential book advocating the privatization of Iceland's main resource, its fisheries.
Davíð was made head of the Independence Party and became Prime Minister in 1991. He began a radical program of monetary and fiscal stabilization, privatization, and tax rate reduction. Corporate taxes were reduced from 50% to 18%, and the net wealth tax was abolished. The fishing quotas were given free of charge to the owners of fishing vessels. In 2002, Hannes Hólmsteinn published a new book--"How Can Iceland Become the Richest Country in the World?"--in which he set forth a plan for Iceland to become an international financial center. In 2003, the country's main commercial banks were privatized.
Friedman saw Iceland as his utopia. "I would like to be a zero-government libertarian [but] I don't think it's a feasible social structure. I look over history, and outside of perhaps Iceland, where else can you find any historical examples of that kind of a system developing?"
At first, the policies appeared to be very successful. The economy grew at a strong pace, rising until Iceland achieved one of the highest per capita GDPs in the world. In 2007 it also topped the score for the United Nation's Human Development Index.
Iceland rocketed to the top 10 in the indexes of economic freedom. The Cato Institute praised the "Nordic Tiger" for its flat taxes, privatization and economic freedoms, and rated it as the least regulated country in the world.
Unfortunately, it has become evident that these libertarian policies were not the panacea that Friedman claimed they were. In fact, economists are already using Iceland as a textbook case of how to ruin a nation's economy. As Paul Krugman recently noted, there is an "almost eerie correlation between conservative praise two or three years ago and economic disaster today."
Although respectable economists were pointing out the fundamental weaknesses in Friedman's paradise as early as 2006, it is remarkable that Iceland's Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) does not appear to have found a single securities or antitrust violation during the entire period of spectacular growth, despite the fact that nearly all of Iceland's wealth is controlled by a very small group. The Central Bank--led by Davíð Oddsson--took no steps to rein in the banks or to accumulate the reserves of foreign currency required to back their overseas commitments.
Any attempt to restrain the banks and businesses was met with contempt. The Iceland's parliament--the Althingi--was bullied into to implementing "globally competitive policies," with the implied threat that the investors would otherwise flee the country. Which they did anyway, with the banks setting up hundreds of shell corporations in Tortola.
It is an unfortunate characteristic of utopias that they never work as planned. Reality has a way of making a mockery of political and social constructs that are based on theory. Friedman's belief that the markets would somehow regulate themselves didn't take into account the predictably irrational character of human nature. In Iceland's case, the investors' irrational exuberance was matched only by the bank executives' irrational belief that they were the best at everything.
Certainly, no rational foreign investor would take a chance on Iceland now. It should be obvious now that regulation by disinterested parties is essential to the functioning of the markets. Until the entire affair is investigated and made public, until an effective regulatory scheme is enacted, until unbiased regulators are given real power over financial institutions, Iceland is dead in the water.
It is time for the grownups to take over again.

Hope they rot!

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  • Sat, 08/05/2010 - 19:18

I hope they start some sort of suffering and deprevation as we have.

Makes all that ash worth it

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  • Sat, 08/05/2010 - 10:22

Makes all that ash worth it when I read this!!! Hopefully this will lead to those that are hiding out in the Uk, and where is David Oddssen I wonder??

Icelandic "crooks" hiding out in the UK

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  • Sun, 09/05/2010 - 17:10

The Icelandic "crooks" hiding out in the UK have nothing to fear as the UK is well known to protect its Nomdoms!
The Russian mafiosi, sorry oliarchs, are very safe in the UK (the odd poisoning incident excluded). Despite Lord Ashcroft's dodgy business deals in Belize there is no chance of any UK government ever allowing him to b extradited to Belize.