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Bank Execs Plead Innocent

Lárus Welding, former director of Glitnir Bank, and four other executives from the failed bank, have this morning pleaded not guilty to all charges as their trial begins.

The five men are accused of market manipulation by having attempted to shore up Glitnir’s share price with extensive illegal trading for more than 300 trading days leading up to the banking crash in 2008. The case was opened at the Reykjavík District Court this morning, RÚV reported.

This is the fifth set of charges brought against former Glitnir execs by the office of the special prosecutor, now the district prosecutor. The accused are Lárus Welding, Jóhannes Baldursson, Jónas Guðmundsson, Valgarð Már Valgarðsson and Pétur Jónasson.

The five are accused of having bought shares in their own bank on the Iceland Stock Exchange on 331 different trading days between June 1, 2007 and September 26, 2008, when the bank was forcibly nationalized. It is alleged that Glitnir’s trade in buying its own shares was as high as 50 percent of all trade in the bank’s shares on the stock market. The bank’s sales of its own shares was only about one percent of the total market, by comparison.

Lárus is additionally accused of market manipulation by selling the bank’s shares to companies owned by 14 Glitnir employees in May 2008. The charge claims the bank sold the 14 companies shares for ISK 6.8 billion, which it financed with loans from itself. Lárus is accused by the court, in a separate charge, of having personally granted the loans.

The 14 companies were set up for the specific purpose of engaging in this trade and were entirely without assets before they were granted Glitnir loans and Glitnir shares, it is alleged.

The accused pleaded not guilty to all charges this morning and the case was adjourned until June 15.

Similar charges were laid against former executives at Landsbanki and Kaupþing in March 2013, with long prison sentences imposed in both cases; which have been appealed to the Supreme Court of Iceland.

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