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I am not a criminal, insists billionaire behind Icesave

Posted by smeddum on March 8, 2010

Asked what happened to the bank’s money, Mr Björgólfsson claimed: “When you lose capital in this way, a lot of money goes to money-heaven. The value that has been wiped off the stock markets, the deposits in the banks and investment funds has gone. [It] has evaporated. It’s a common misunderstanding to ask: where did the money go?”

I am not a criminal, insists billionaire behind Icesave
One of the billionaires behind collapsed internet bank Icesave and its parent Landsbanki has denied being “a criminal” in a dramatic interview about Iceland’s banking crash.

By Rowena Mason
07 Mar 2010

Telegraph
Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson spoke out in a new film ahead of Iceland’s crucial referendum on whether to bear the €4bn (£3.6bn) cost of Icesave’s failure.
Over the weekend, more than 90pc of Iceland’s electorate voted against a deal that would see the country pay back Britain and Holland for compensating 400,000 savers in the two countries.

Mr Björgólfsson and his father, Björgólfur Gudmundsson, the former owner and chairman of West Ham FC, owned 41pc of Landsbanki before it collapsed in October 2008. Asked what he would say to people who describe the bank’s owners as criminal, Mr Björgólfsson replied: “I have nothing to say to them. I am not a criminal and never have been.” He then detaches his microphone and walks off.
Mr Björgólfsson, whose wealth has fallen from $3.5bn (£2.3bn) at its peak to $1bn last year according to Forbes, denies any wrongdoing in relation to the crash in the new film, Maybe I Should Have. The documentary has been shown in Icelandic cinemas and was brought to Britain last week by its director, Gunnar Sigurdsson, whose attempt to trace the billions lost in the banks takes him to London, Guernsey, Luxembourg and the British Virgin Islands.
Asked what happened to the bank’s money, Mr Björgólfsson claimed: “When you lose capital in this way, a lot of money goes to money-heaven. The value that has been wiped off the stock markets, the deposits in the banks and investment funds has gone. [It] has evaporated. It’s a common misunderstanding to ask: where did the money go?”
Attempts to negotiate a better Icesave deal are set to continue this week, with Chancellor Alistair Darling indicating that he understood Iceland’s position: “The fundamental point for us is that we get our money back – but on the terms and conditions and so on, we’re prepared to be flexible.”
Over the past 18 months, there have been demonstrations in Reykjavik against the idea ordinary people should pay the debt of a commercial bank, with particular concern about the 5pc interest rate demanded by Britain and Holland. Public anger has intensified since the news that the authorities are pursuing 43 cases of potential fraud in Iceland’s financial institutions, including Landsbanki and rivals, Kaupthing and Glitnir.
Icesave was set up and marketed to British savers with high interest rates in October 2006, when analysts were already warning that the banks were financially unstable.

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