A group of Dutch Icesave customers this week sent a letter to Icelandic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir to demand their savings be insured by the Icelandic government.
According to the group, calling itself ‘Icesaving, Association for 100.000-plus Icesave Victims’, there are only 469 former Icesave customers who have yet to find a suitable refund option for their lost savings.
While the British government agreed to compensate all British Icesave customers fully, the Dutch government only offered compensation up to a limit of EUR 100,000. The group represents the 469 Dutch Icesave customers who had deposits over EUR 100,000.
According to Icesaving, as Landsbanki ran Icesave as foreign branches of the Icelandic parent company without setting up daughter companies within the UK and Netherlands themselves, European law forbids them to prioritise the savings of Icelandic residents over those living elsewhere.
The group demands either a refund of the money lost or that their savings be moved into safe accounts at New Landsbanki – as was done for savers within Iceland.
In the letter, the group says: “We are well aware of your ‘struggle’ to come to an agreement with both the UK as well as the Dutch government on the repayment of the deposits. And we welcome the recent words of Minister for Foreign Affairs Ossur Skarphedinsson that there should be a solution to the dispute over the Icesave accounts. A solution that can only have one acceptable outcome: compensation for all Icesave account holders.
“In addition, in the ‘Emergency Law’ of the 6th of October 2008 the Althingi decided to compensate all Icelandic savers in full, which was done by giving the Landsbanki savers access to their deposits in New Landsbanki (art. 8).
“According to the Agreement on the European Economic Area (1993) however, which was signed by Iceland, any discrimination based on nationality is prohibited.
Meaning that by giving the Icelandic savers access to their money, you should have given all the other Landsbanki savers access to their money as well.
“We, after all, are direct savers with Landsbanki (branch office) and not savers with a Dutch legal entity. That fact alone made it impossible for the Dutch government to take over the responsibility for the activities of Landsbanki in the Netherlands, as was being done with other Dutch (national) banks.
“Your decision to discriminate between savers based on their nationality is unacceptable in every way; which means that we are formally asking you, the Icelandic government, to give us access to our saving accounts in New Landsbanki Islands hf, as the Icelandic account holders have, or fully compensate us for the loss of our savings.