State prosecutor Sigríður Friðjónsdóttir gave her closing argument before Landsdómur court yesterday. The speech was three hours long with a 15 minute break. Sigríður maintained that former Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde had seriously neglected his post by not reacting to threats which he was aware of at the time.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
Geir H. Haarde. Photo by GO.
It is not certain whether Geir could have prevented the collapse, but he may have been able to avert some damages. Sigríður then mentioned several examples of information which Geir had received, such as at meetings, through reports or memos, but which he did not react to.
The work of a consultation group about financial stability had been unsystematic since the authorities had not been clear about what they wanted done. The group’s suggestions were never discussed during meetings of the four ministers who were in charge of economic issues. Minister of Economic Affairs, Björgvin G. Sigurðsson, had been kept out of important meetings, which increases Geir’s responsibility for not reacting to the situation.
Sigríður said that Geir could have done more to pressure the banks into decreasing their operations, either through legal resources or by passing new laws. Instead, the banks seem to have had full authority to act as they pleased. Selling property had, on the other hand, been quite possible.
Regarding the transfer of the British Icesave accounts to a subsidiary, Sigríður said that Geir should not have waited from a phone call from the Director General of the Financial Supervisory Authority. It should have been attempted to force the transfer through, by applying laws about financial companies, since Landsbanki was not ready to do so.
Geir was also required to have meetings with the ministers about important political issues, and the status of the financial system was certainly an important issue. Nonetheless, it was never officially discussed at cabinet meetings.
Andri Árnason, Geir Haarde’s defence attorney, will state his case today, ruv.is reports.