The former head of Straumur investment bank, William Fall told Icelandic television last night that if his claim for withheld wages to the bank’s resolution committee is paid out, the money will be given to charities in Iceland. Fall has claimed ISK 640 million in backdated wages. The matter has been sent to the Reykjavik District Court.
Asked if it is fair to claim wages from the bankrupt estate of a bank he was in charge of when it collapsed, Fall said there are two ways of looking at it. He believes that from a purely legal point of view, the money should be paid out. But he admits the situation looks more complicated from a moral standpoint.
Fall continued that he does not wish to personally benefit from the current situation, which is why he has decided to donate the money to charity, should the court rule in his favour.
Asked if he agreed with the decision to nationalise Straumur, Fall said that the bank had clearly fallen into arrears. Representatives of the bank had therefore asked for Central Bank support, which later took the decision to fully nationalise the bank.
He said the decision had been particularly upsetting for him personally, but that it is over and done with now.
Straumur was Iceland’s biggest investment-only bank and outlived the three full-service banks by nearly half a year.
In closing, Fall said that he hopes Icelanders do not judge members of the Icelandic financial sector too harshly based on what is going on now. He said that there are some very talented people in the sector and that these same people can push Iceland back out into international trade.
He told RUV that the banking sector in Iceland used to be too large and too risk hungry; but that it is obvious the new system will be much smaller and safer that it once was.