In a surprise turn of even the board of the Icelandic Financial Supervisory Authority (FSA) decided to fire Gunnar Andersen, the Director General. He had already been served with a notice that the board wanted to fire him, but as a state employee, he had the right to write a report in defense of himself.
In a statement this morning the FSA board said: “The Board of Directors of the Financial Supervisory Authority (FME) has today given notice to Gunnar Þ. Andersen, the Authority’s Director General, of its decision to terminate his contract of employment. This step is taken after careful consideration and following the Board’s detailed examination of documentation and arguments in the case.
The reason for the dismissal is the failed premises for Gunnar Andersen’s fulfilment of his duties, as his eligibility is insufficient. This arises from events in his past as one of the managing directors of Landsbanki Íslands hf.
Added to this is the fact that FME received indications yesterday that Gunnar may have committed an offence in the course of duty by obtaining confidential information from the banking system unlawfully. The Board of Directors of FME reported the matter to the police this morning and Gunnar has ceased work, effective immediately. FME’s Chief Legal Counsel, Unnur Gunnarsdóttir, has provisionally assumed the position of Director General.
During his employment with Landsbanki Íslands hf., Gunnar served as Chairman of the Board of two offshore companies of Landsbanki and participated in providing FME with misleading or actually incorrect information on the existence of these companies. For this reason the Board of Directors of FME considers him to be ineligible to serve as Director General of FME. Ineligibility of this sort could, for instance, arise when FME assesses the conduct of regulated entities suspected of failing to provide the Authority with satisfactory information. Ineligibility of this sort could also be tested when FME assesses the eligibility of individuals to serve as board members of regulated entities, to serve as their directors or to exercise qualifying holdings in them. In addition, the position taken by Gunnar Þ. Andersen sends a wrong and damaging message to market actors and the FME employees working under his direction.
The outgoing Director General has himself stated publicly that he carried out information disclosure to FME properly. His position, as reflected in this statement, is contrary to the policy laid down by FME following the collapse of the Icelandic financial system, of enforcing stringently demands for honest and normal business practices in the financial sector. The eligibility and credibility of the Director General of FME must be beyond any doubt.”