Changes to Bank Secrecy Laws Discussed in Iceland Skip to content

Changes to Bank Secrecy Laws Discussed in Iceland

Björgvin G. Sigurdsson, party group chairman of the Social Democrats, said it is necessary to review the laws on bank secrecy to such an extent that the media can cover important topics of public interest without being in breach of law.

Björgvin G. Sigurdsson. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

Sigurdsson believes that other MPs of the Social Democrats as well as MPs for the other government party, the Left Greens, agree with him on the necessity of reviewing the banking secrecy laws, Fréttabladid reports.

Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon said this matter hasn’t formally been discussed within the government but expected it to be brought up today.

Sigfússon said that he doesn’t see any reason to withhold information related to the banking collapse and the events leading up to it and that Left Green MPs are generally of the same opinion.

However, such information must not be confused with information concerning daily banking operations where privacy laws must be honored, the minister emphasized.

On August 1, the Reykjavík District Commissioner had an injunction placed on RÚV’s planned coverage of Kaupthing’s largest debtors at the request of Kaupthing five minutes before the news were to be broadcast, reports.

The injunction is a temporary measure, effective for one week. After that, Kaupthing has to take their case to the courts. Law professor Sigurdur Líndal said it is possible that the injunction might be extended to all Icelandic media.

Steinar Thór Gudgeirsson, chairman of the Kaupthing resolution committee, told Fréttabladid that with the injunction the committee had only been protecting the interests of the bank’s clients who did not have any part in the banking collapse last fall, and that the committee doesn’t want to limit coverage of companies that are directly related to the collapse.

“All media have reported on this back and forth in the eight months that have passed without the committee commenting on it. We have also provided information to the Financial Supervisory Authority and the parliament’s investigation committee where the information is accessible,” Gudgeirsson said.

Gudgeirsson also pointed out that bank secrecy had been partly abolished with laws established in relation to the parliament’s investigation committee, which has extensive authority to obtain and publish information if deemed necessary.

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