Iceland Crisis Report: President Criticized for His Part Skip to content

Iceland Crisis Report: President Criticized for His Part

A task force on ethical issues, which presented its findings along with the Special Investigative Commission (SIC) yesterday, said President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson’s role in the chain of events that led to the banking collapse of October 2008 had been especially noteworthy.

President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.

The task force concluded that the president is one of those who hold a moral responsibility for the events leading up to the banking collapse and the collapse itself by “participating in the play that was staged around the leaders of the outvasion and their companies,” even thought he isn’t a direct participants in administrational decisions, Fréttabladid reports.

The task force covers in detail how the president developed “his theory” on the supremacy of Icelandic companies and their executives. “The president was efficient in painting a beautified, arrogant and patriotic picture of the superiority of Icelanders based on an ancient heritage.”

The president continued with this practice even after he was criticized both in Iceland and abroad, the task force stated.

Special attention is paid to the president’s overseas travels to promote the “outvasion” (the establishment of Icelandic companies on foreign soil), which began through a close cooperation with Sigurdur Einarsson, former chairman of Kaupthing’s board. “Sigurdur can be considered one of the president’s primary partners in recent years.”

The task force states that Icelandic investments in many countries between 2002 and 2008 are reflected in the president’s visits to these countries, including Russia and Bulgaria, where tycoon father and son Björgólfur Gudmundsson and Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson were particularly active as investors.

The task force recites articles written by historian Gudjón Fridriksson on the president’s visit to China in 2005 with an entourage of 100 people.

That group included “all the main players of the outvasion, from Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson, Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson and Hannes Smárason to the bank directors Hreidar Már Sigurdsson and Sigurjón Th. Árnason,” the task force’s report reads.

The report also points out that the president often accepted rides with private jets owned or rented by companies that have often been mentioned in relation to the banking collapse, including Kaupthing, Actavis, Glitnir, Novator, FL Group and Eimskipafélag Íslands.

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