Tag Archive | Iceland

Iceland Jail Top Bankers For 46 Years, Europe ‘Outraged’*

Iceland Jail Top Bankers For 46 Years, Europe ‘Outraged’*

By Baxter Dmitry

Iceland has found nine top bankers guilty and sentenced them to decades in jail for crimes related to the 2008 economic crash.

On Thursday Iceland’s Supreme Court returned a guilty verdict for all nine defendants in the Kaupthing market manipulation case, after a long running court trial which began in April last year.

Kaupthing was a big international bank headquartered in Reykjavik, Iceland. It expanded internationally for years, but collapsed in 2008 under huge debts, crippling the small nation’s economy.

By demanding that bankers be subject to the same laws as the rest of society, Iceland opted for a very different strategy in the wake of the financial crisis to rest of Europe and the U.S., where banks were fined nominal amounts, and directors and chief executives escaped punishment altogether.

 

While the U.S. and U.K. governments provided bail outs and government stakes for their big banks with tax-payers’ money – essentially giving bankers the green light to continue behaving in the same way – Iceland adopted a different approach, declaring it would let the banks go bust, weed out and punish the criminal element at the top of the banks, and protect the savings of the people.

 

Former director of the bank, Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson, who was found guilty and jailed last year, was also given a six-month extension to his sentence on Thursday.

According to Iceland Monitor, the bankers are found guilty of crimes relating to deceitfully financing share purchases – the bank lent money for the purchase of the shares while using its own shares as collateral for the loans.

They are also found guilty of creating a misleading demand for Kaupthing shares by means of deception and pretence.

 

The Icelandic Approach

These guilty verdicts are just the latest in Iceland’s unprecedented clampdown since the economic crash. Authorities have been pursuing bank bosses, chief executives, civil servants and corporate looters for crimes ranging from insider trading to fraud, money laundering, misleading markets, breach of duties and lying to officials.

Meanwhile the economy that collapsed so spectacularly has rebounded after letting its banks go bust, imposing capital controls and protecting its own citizens rather than the elite bank bosses responsible for the mess.

This determination to hold people to account for actions that caused intense financial misery contrasts strongly with the U.K., the rest of Europe and the U.S. Yes, fines were imposed on the 20 biggest banks for transgressions such as market manipulation, money-laundering and mis-selling mortgages, but these costs fall on shareholders and, by hampering the banks’ ability to lend, they also punish the rest of society.

Meanwhile the guilty senior bankers, thanks to government bail outs, carry on making enormous profits and collecting their obscene bonuses as though nothing happened.

Last year, the International Monetary Fund declared that Iceland had achieved economic recovery “without compromising its welfare model” or unduly punishing its citizens for crimes committed by its bankers.

Iceland is right to jail it’s bankers – and the U.S. and Europe is wrong to merely slap a few wrists and give the green light to future outrages.

Source*

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More Banksters Sentenced in Iceland*

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Iceland’s Capital Votes to Boycott All Israeli Products*

Iceland’s Capital Votes to Boycott All Israeli Products*

By Whitney Webb

The city council of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, has voted to ban all Israeli-made goods in protest of the continuing “occupation of Palestinian territories” and Israel’s “policy of apartheid” against Palestinians. Concerns regarding Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians were renewed following Israel’s announcement in July that it would build Israeli homes in the contested West Bank, inciting violent protests.

Most countries consider these new settlements as well as previous ones illegal and even the US State Department has expressed its concerns over Israeli settlement expansion. In the past, Reykjavik’s city council has been critical of Israel and has previously adopted resolutions that acknowledge Palestinian rights to independence and a sovereign nation. According to Iceland’s foreign ministry, the small island nation purchased $6 million of Israeli imports, most of which in the form of fruits and vegetables, equipment, and machinery.

Iceland’s national government said that the boycott would only be limited to the country’s capital and has tried to distance itself from the action of Reykjavik’s city council. Yet, as Iceland’s largest city and home to half its population, Reykjavik’s decision to boycott Israel will likely cause some economic impact though it is hard to say whether or not it will be significant. Israeli exports totalled $53.7 billion in 2014, meaning its exports to Iceland represent a meagre 1.1% of its total annual exports.

Overall, it appears that Israel is much more concerned with the symbolic impact of the boycott as opposed to its economic effects as they have been actively fighting against several recent international boycotts in response to Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people, most notably the BDS movement (Boycott, Divest, Sanctions).

Concerns about the growth of boycott movements have led Israel to pass legislation allowing for the deportation of foreign activists, to threaten the lives of BDS supporters, and to lobby for legislation in other countries to prevent future boycotts. They have even teamed up with Facebook to try and prevent criticism of Israel on social media.

Israel’s government responded to news of Reykjavik’s boycott with harsh criticism. Emmanuel Nahshon, Israel’s foreign minister, responded by saying:

“A volcano of hatred is erupting out of the city council building in Reykjavik. Without any reason or justification, other than pure hatred, we hear calls to boycott Israel. We hope someone in Iceland comes to their senses and stops the blindness and the one-sidedness that is directed at Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East.”

Some Icelanders were also critical of the boycott, including a local attorney who said the ban on Israeli goods violates the Icelandic constitution. It remains to be seen if Israel will take action against Iceland as a result of the new boycott.

Source*

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After a 10-Year Hiatus U.S. Military Returns to Iceland*

After a 10-Year Hiatus U.S. Military Returns to Iceland*

By Trude Pettersen

The U.S. Navy’s return to Keflavik revives an American presence that ended when the service shifted its focus in Europe away from the North Atlantic and toward the Mediterranean.

The Navy is asking for funds to upgrade an aircraft hangar at its former base in Keflavik, Iceland, as part of the Defense Department’s fiscal 2017 budget request, Navy officials say to Stars and Stripes. The hangar will house P-8 Poseidon aircraft, successor to the P-3 Orion once stationed at the base.

Established in 1951, the base is strategically located midway between the U.S. East Coast and Europe, making it ideal for patrolling the frigid waters between Greenland, Iceland and the U.K.

Naval Air Station Keflavik was home to thousands of service members who supported Navy and Air Force fighter jets, tankers and rescue helicopters before closing in 2006.

For now, the Navy is only interested in deploying maritime patrol aircraft for short durations, as needed, the official said. The Navy could eventually establish regular patrol rotations at the base, the official said, which would likely resemble the Navy’s maritime patrol force at its air base in Sigonella, Sicily, where squadrons rotate out every six months.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work visited Iceland last autumn to discuss future operations at Keflavik Air Base with Icelandic officials, Reykjavik Grapevine reported.

“Iceland has become increasingly concerned with the Russian activity,” Work said in an interview with Defense News.

“The Russians have long done transit flights where they pass close by Iceland, but they’ve recently made several circumnavigation flights – flying completely around the island nation. As a result, “Iceland is interested in increasing military cooperation.”

Russian submarines are also patrolling the North Atlantic more frequently than at any time since the end of the Cold War

The United States has a long relationship with Iceland, and by treaty since 1951 continues to be responsible for the defence of the country. Iceland has no military, but the country’s coast guard fulfils most military missions, and is responsible for maintaining Keflavik as a military installation. The last U.S. forces left Iceland in 2006.

U.S. aircraft occasionally still use the base’s facilities. Two F-16s landed there recently when they experienced mechanical difficulties flying across the Atlantic. A U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance and patrol aircraft also visited the base over several days in April to assess the feasibility of operating the aircraft at Keflavik, from where P-3 Orions regularly flew missions during and after the Cold War.

Since 2008, Iceland’s air space has been patrolled by NATO allies as part of the Icelandic Air Policing operation.

Source*

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U.S. Kept Plans to Reopen Military Base in Iceland from Icelandic PM*

Corrupt Icelandic Officials to Free Jailed Banksters*

Icelandic PM Refuses to Resign Amid Panama Papers Leak*

Icelandic PM Refuses to Resign Amid Panama Papers Leak*

According to documents, Gunnlaugsson and his wife purchased offshore company Wintris Inc. in British Virgin Islands in Dec 2007.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, who has been named in the Panama Papers about offshore financial dealings. (Photo: AP)

 

Iceland’s prime minister refused on Monday to resign despite calls to do so after leaked “Panama Papers” tax documents showed he and his wife used an offshore firm to allegedly hide million-dollar investments.

“I have not considered quitting because of this matter nor am I going to quit because of this matter,” Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson told Icelandic television Channel 2.

According to the leaked documents, Gunnlaugsson and his wife Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir purchased the offshore company Wintris Inc. in the British Virgin Islands in December 2007.

He transferred his 50-percent stake to her in 2009 for the symbolic sum of one dollar.

He has insisted he never hid any money abroad, and says his wife, who inherited a fortune from her father, has paid all her taxes in Iceland.

“She has neither utilised tax havens nor can you say that her company is an offshore company in the sense that it pays taxes abroad rather than in Iceland,” Gunnlaugsson said on his website.

Whether or not Gunnlaugsson is guilty of tax evasion remains to be proven, but his opponents have insisted he step down regardless.

“The prime minister should immediately resign,” former Social Democratic Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir said in a message posted on Facebook.

More than 24,000 Icelanders have also signed a petition demanding his resignation, while the opposition has said it will seek a vote of no confidence in parliament, likely to be held this week.

Source*

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U.S. Kept Plans to Reopen Military Base in Iceland from Icelandic PM*

U.S. Kept Plans to Reopen Military Base in Iceland from Icelandic PM*

© AP Photo/ Kirsty Wigglesworth

 

As a response to the deteriorating relations between Washington and Moscow, the United States will reopen a Cold War-era naval base in Iceland. These plans were kept secret from the Icelandic public, and even the prime minister of the country learned of the deal only through U.S. media reports.

“A lot of Icelanders are worried,” Paul Fontaine, news editor with the Reykjavik Grapevine, told Radio Sputnik.

“When the base closed in 2006, a lot of Icelanders were relieved.”

Located near the capital of Reykjavik, the base, originally built during World War II, will be retrofitted to house P-8 Poseidon surveillance planes. News of this arrangement came as a complete surprise to many Icelanders.

“Why did we learn about this from Stars and Stripes, the U.S. military’s media outlet,” Fontaine asked.

“Even the Prime Minister himself said that he learned about these plans from the news, and that’s highly unusual.”

While the U.S. has so far stated that it only plans to upgrade a single hangar, the move makes it likely that the military presence at the base could be greatly expanded in the future.

“The U.S. military has said that they kind of look at Iceland as having the potential to be like their base in Sicily,” Fontaine says.

“And their base in Sicily has some 4,000 troops and family members and other base workers. I think that calls for worry.”

While opposition figures point out the concerns of allowing the U.S. to expand its military presence in Iceland, the government has downplayed the move.

“People in the opposition are saying, ‘Hey, this is worrisome. Why are we hearing this from the American military and not from you all?’ It’s a very strange way to play things out,” he states.

If war were to break out between the United States and Russia, the presence of an American military base would quickly drag Iceland into the conflict.

“A lot of Icelanders are a little bit concerned that this kind of puts us in a situation right now,” Fontaine says.

“I remember the Cold War, I was in high school through the Cold War, and I remember how these two countries can engage via proxy through smaller parties, and right now we’re the smaller party.”

While the base is said to be temporary, history shows that this may not be the case.

“The American military very seldom sends a few guys and then withdraws them,” he says. “Especially if it’s at a strategic point, especially during a time when tensions are rising with a potential rival.”

“I have very little faith in the word of the American military that they’re just going to send a few guys here and then take them out.”

Source*

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Fiji’s PM Tells Lesbians to Move to Iceland*

Fiji’s PM Tells Lesbians to Move to Iceland*

By Vala Hafstad

Prime Minister of Fiji Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama has simple advice to offer those in his country who fight for the legalization of same-sex marriage, according to fijisun.com. For any woman who wants to marry another woman, he advises, “Go and have it done in Iceland and stay and live there.”

The comment was made on Tuesday in response to human rights activist Shamima Ali, who would like to see Fiji allow same-sex marriage. The prime minister said, “Tell Shamima Ali, there will be no same sex marriage in Fiji, a topic pushed by NGOs such as hers under the issue of human rights.”

Since 2010, sexual activity between people of the same sex has been legal in Fiji, but the country does not allow same-sex marriages or civil unions. A travel guide to Fiji states, “it is strongly recommended for gay and lesbian travelers to Fiji to not display their affection toward each other in public.”

Same-sex marriage has been legal in Iceland since 2010.

Source*

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More Banksters Sentenced in Iceland*

More Banksters Sentenced in Iceland*

Iceland has sentenced its 26th banker to prison for the official’s role in the 2008 financial collapse.

The move is representative of Iceland’s post-2008 decision to diverge from the orthodox neoliberal economic thinking of other Western countries, particularly the United States, which bailed out failed banks with $700 billion of taxpayer money.

In 2001, Iceland followed U.S. president Bill Clinton’s lead and deregulated its financial sector. Now the country exercises its proper authority over the activity of banks.

James Woods reports at U.S. Uncut:

“In two separate Icelandic Supreme Court and Reykjavik District Court rulings, five top bankers from Landsbankinn and Kaupping — the two largest banks in the country — were found guilty of market manipulation, embezzlement, and breach of fiduciary duties. Most of those convicted have been sentenced to prison for two to five years. The maximum penalty for financial crimes in Iceland is six years, although their Supreme Court is currently hearing arguments to consider expanding sentences beyond the six year maximum. …

When Iceland’s President, Olafur Ragnar Grimmson, was asked how the country managed to recover from the global financial disaster, he famously replied,

“We were wise enough not to follow the traditional prevailing orthodoxies of the Western financial world in the last 30 years. We introduced currency controls, we let the banks fail, we provided support for the poor, and we didn’t introduce austerity measures like you’re seeing in Europe.

Meanwhile, in America, not one single banking executive has been charged with a crime related to the 2008 crash and U.S. banks are raking in more than $160 billion in annual profits with little to no regulation in place to avoid another financial catastrophe.

Source*

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U.S. Military to Reopen Base in Iceland?*

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Iceland Counters U.S. Military Claims of ‘Russian Flights’*

Asian Bank Threatens the Dollar, so U.S. Threatens China*

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