North Iceland shop claims bank is stealing its money

The owner of a north Iceland hardware store is bringing charges against Landsbanki bank for theft.

The shop in Akureyri has been in negotiation with Landsbanki for three years over its debts on foreign-currency loans and now the shop’s boss has gone to the press, saying the bank’s intransigence amounts to theft.

The owner of the shop, called Uti og Inni, took out a loan with Landsbanki when they moved to new premises in Akureyri three years ago. In the banking collapse the loan payments and the total amount owed in Icelandic kronur sky rocketed and shop owner Agnes Arnardottir says no positive results have come from regular negotiations since that time, RUV reported.

“They have not wanted to listen to us, we have tried to get a meeting with the top managers. They always say they are looking into the matter and it has been the same story for three years; new documents, new meetings and constantly putting it to some sort of loans committees and suchlike, but nothing comes out of it. Now we are just about done with it all. We look at it like this: that you get some predetermined amount as a loan, you pay some set amount and then there is a set amount left; but if you are forced to pay some tens-of-millions more than that, then it is simply theft!”

Arnarsdottir says that the original loan was ISK 80 million, they have already paid ISK 24 million off in three years and hope to have ISK 56 million left to pay. Landsbanki, however, says the shop still has ISK 130 million more to pay at this time — 50 million more than the original loan amount.

She believes that such loans have already been declared illegal by courts and says that four lawyers have investigated the shop’s case and come to the same conclusion — but the bank disagrees. She has now taken her claim to the Akureyri district commissioner (sometimes translated into English as sheriff), accusing Landsbanki of theft.

She has not hired a lawyer to take the case to court herself, “Because we are just a little company and the bank has loads of lawyers and plenty of money. I just don’t have any money left over and can’t afford to hire a lawyer. I’m just trying to protect myself,” Arnarsdottir says.