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Geir Haarde, Iceland ex-PM, indicted for role In financial crisis

Posted by seumasach on September 29, 2010

Huffington Post

28th September, 2010

Iceland’s former Prime Minister Geir Haarde has been referred to a special court in a move that could make him the first world leader to be charged in connection with the global financial crisis.

After a heated debate Tuesday, lawmakers voted 33-30 to refer charges to the court against Haarde for allegedly failing to prevent Iceland’s 2008 financial crash – a crisis that sparked protests, toppled the government and brought the economy to a standstill by collapsing its currency.

Haarde faces up to two years in jail if found guilty. The court, which could dismiss the charges, has never before convened in Iceland’s history. A hearing date has not yet been set.

Haarde, ex-leader of the Independence Party, is no longer in parliament and stepped down from office last year following widespread protests and treatment for esophageal cancer.

“I will answer all charges before the court and I will be vindicated.” Haarde, 59, told the Icelandic Broadcaster RUV. “I have a clean slate. This charge borders on political persecution.”

Iceland, a volcanic island with a population of just 320,000, went from economic wunderkind to fiscal basket case almost overnight when the credit crunch took hold.

After dizzying economic growth that saw banks and companies in this tiny Nordic nation snap up assets around the world for a decade, the global financial crisis wreaked political and economic havoc in Iceland. Its banks collapsed in October 2008.

Unemployment has soared since then and the country has lurched from crisis to crisis.

In April, an eruption at Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano triggered a giant ash cloud that disrupted global air travel for weeks and later restricted travel to and from the island nation.

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