UK and NL receive first Icesave refunds, ESA still not sure about legal action

The estate of Iceland’s bankrupt Landsbanki bank this week paid the British and Dutch governments one third of the money they claim for having bailed out Landsbanki’s Icesave customers in the two countries. An ESA spokesman said that there still has not been any decision made as to whether or not the Icelandic state will be taken to court over Icesave in a case to decide whether or not it was the government’s duty to pay the money back. The ESA maintains that it was; but the Icelandic government disagrees.

Icelanders twice voted ‘no’ in referendums on public Icesave repayments, which left the unhappy British and Dutch governments queueing up with other creditors — uncertain how much (if any) of their money they would get back, or when. It quickly came to light that Landsbanki would be able to recover nearly all of the lost money demanded by priority claimants and the Icelandic government declared that the dispute between the three governments should therefore close.

Now that Landsbanki has paid over ISK 350 billion (EUR 2.2 billion) off, Ví contacted the EFTA surveilance authority, the ESA, to ask how that affects it possible case against Iceland.

The ESA information officer, Trygve Mellvang-Berg, responded that the payment will have no effect at all on the case status; but no decision has yet been made about legal action.

“We believe the payment is in accordance with the information we received in the written answer from the Icelandic authorities to the ESA assessment from this summer. Still no decision has been made concerning the next step in the case,” Mellvang-Berg says in a written reply to Vísir.

Steingrímur J. Sigfússon, the Icelandic Minister of Finance, was unwilling to speculate on the ESA’s next step — but said that the payment from the bankruptcy estate should have a positive influence of the atmosphere within the ESA and between the three countries. “It is of course only positive and good that claimants are getting their first payment — and a big payment. I think that this should have a beneficial effect on the atmosphere around all of this,” he said.

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