Iceland bank crash execs charged

Iceland’s special prosecutor into the banking crash is pressing charges against four former top executives at the now-defunct Kaupþing Bank. The charges relate to market manipulation in co-operation with a Qatari sheikh in the autumn of 2008.

It has today been revealed that charges were last Friday laid against Sigurður Einarsson, the bank’s former chairman; Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson, former president; Magnús Guðmundsson, former boss of Kaupþing Luxembourg; and Ólafur Ólafsson from the Samskip transport company, who was a board member and major owner at Kaupþing.

The alleged breach of the law concerns Qatari Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al-Thani’s purchase of around five percent of the entire bank shortly before its collapse.

Attempts were made to cover up the fact that Ólafur Ólafsson was involved in the deal; but RÚV reported in early 2009 that the purchase was carried out by a specially-created subsidiary company owned by Ólafur and Al-Thani on the tax haven island of Tortola. The purchase was financed by Kaupþing Bank itself.

RÚV reports that special prosecutor Ólafur Þ. Hauksson alleges the deal with the Sheikh was set up by the bank purely to prop up the failing bank’s share price and increase confidence in the doomed institution. The charges are part of a much wider investigation into huge market manipulation at the bank.

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