Brown Justifies Use of Anti-Terrorism Act on Landsbanki Skip to content

Brown Justifies Use of Anti-Terrorism Act on Landsbanki

The UK was right to use the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act of 2001 to freeze the assets of Landsbanki in the UK in October 2008, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown wrote in response to a letter from his Icelandic counterpart, Jóhanna Sigurdardóttir.

The headquarters of Landsbanki in Reykjavík. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

However, in the letter, which Fréttabladid has a copy of, Brown also states that he will review the report undertaken by the Treasury Committee of the UK Parliament, criticizing the implementation of the anti-terrorism legislation, and react accordingly.

Brown added that the British Financial Supervisory Authority will review the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001 as recommended in the Treasury Committee’s report.

Sigurdardóttir wrote the letter to Brown on April 7, mentioning the report. “I am very interested in learning how your government intends to react to the conclusion and especially whether the freezing of Landsbanki will be lifted,” the PM wrote, adding that such an act of reconciliation would be much appreciated.

Furthermore, Sigurdardóttir stated that she would do her utmost to find a solution to the Icesave dispute—Icesave was Landsbanki’s online savings unit in the UK and the Netherlands—emphasizing that she preferred good diplomatic relations with Britain.

The PM then reminded Brown of common interests, such as in the fight against tax havens, mentioning that Iceland had recruited corruption hunter Eva Joly.

Brown’s response was sent on April 24 but hasn’t been made public until now. He agreed with Sigurdardóttir on the importance of solving the Icesave dispute and that Iceland honor its obligations. He also mentioned tax havens and that his Treasury had invited Iceland to bilateral discussions on that subject.

“I have no doubt that the relations between Iceland and Britain have a bright future,” Brown concluded.

Fréttabladid asked historian Gudni Th. Jóhannesson to compare the letters. He said that Sigurdardóttir’s letter sounds polite but has a serious undertone. “But […] Brown leaves no room for doubt that Icelandic authorities are obliged to take responsibility for the Icesave deposits.” The main issue, according to Brown, is that there were valid reasons for freezing Landsbanki’s assets, Jóhannesson argued.

The restrictions on Landsbanki in the UK, established through the anti-terrorism act, were lifted yesterday, following an agreement between Icelandic, Dutch and British authorities on Iceland’s obligations towards Landsbanki’s Icesave depositors.

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