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Report on Bank Re-Privatization Causes Fury

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Report on Bank Re-Privatization Causes Fury

Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament

Alþingishúsið, the Icelandic parliamentary building. Photo: Páll Kjartansson.

Reactions to the report presented Monday, criticizing the re-privatization of the Icelandic banks, continue. The two MPs who presented the report, Progressive Party MP Vigdís Hauksdóttir and Independence Party MP Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, paid for the report out of their own pockets, leading many to believe that the report was politically motivated and meant to discredit members of the Social Democratic Party and the Left-Green Movement, who took power in 2009 and subsequently had the banks privatized.

The banks had previously been taken over by the Icelandic state, following the banking collapse in 2008. The two MPs who presented the report are both members of the Icelandic Parliament’s Budget Committee, Vígdís being its chair.

According to RÚV, the report accuses the finance minister at the time, Steingrímur J. Sigfússon of the Left-Green Movement, as well as other officials and experts, of having given large amounts of money to the banks’ creditors in order to appease them, and subjecting tax payers to a huge financial risk.

Yesterday, a supreme court lawyer, Jóhannes Karl Karlsson, who was involved in negotiations with foreign creditors of the fallen banks, called accusations in the report outrageous. He stated that officials and specialists are almost accused of treason, without getting the chance to answer for themselves.

Guðlaugur Þór apologized last night on his Facebook page for the wording in the report.

Jóhannes stated that a summary at the beginning of the report blames negotiators for a strange fear and feeling of inferiority, and a strange tendency to portect the interests of creditors.

Today, another member of the Icelandic authorities’ negotiating team, Þorsteinn Þorsteinsson, maintains the report includes a number of comments that discredit his professional honor, RÚV reports. He is, however, not certain whether those comments are a violation of the law, although he regards them as professional slander, libel and abuse.

That is the view expressed in a letter Þorsteinn delivered in Alþingi, the Icelandic parliament, today, addressed to the Budget Committee. The letter states that those who worked to restore the commercial banks in 2009 did all in their power to establish a solid bank system and that the emphasis had been on protecting the interest of the state treasury. “Thus, it’s surprising that now, seven years later, individuals appear who believe all that was badly done and mostly submission toward creditors.”

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