Exista paid out millions in bonuses during Iceland financial crisis

The former board of Exista in Iceland decided to pay millions of kronur in bonuses during 2009, despite the fact that the company was insolvent.

Exista paid out bonuses to the company president and the executive board in 2009 based on predicted company performance in the year ahead. Exista lost ISK 206.3 billion (EUR 1.24 billion) that year. The company also lost ISK 241.9 billion in the year 2009, Vidskiptabladid reports. There are now calls for the bonuses to be revoked.

According to Vidskiptabladid sources, the highest bonuses paid out were in the region of ISK 10 million (EUR 60,130) each. They went to the former president of Exista, Erlendur Hjaltason and Sigurdur Valtysson. Further bonuses were also paid out to others in the company’s executive board; but the amounts were lower.

The bonuses were paid out at a time when the so-called Bakkavor Brothers Agust and Lydur Gudmundsson still controlled Exista to a greater or lesser extent. At the time they were the registered owners of nearly all Exista shares and sat on the company’s board alongside Hildur Arnadottir, the chief financial officer at Bakkavor, their food processing company.