Independence Party MP: Iceland’s Banks Adrift Skip to content

Independence Party MP: Iceland’s Banks Adrift

By Iceland Review

Independence Party MP Ármann Kr. Ólafsson discussed the changes that have taken place within the senior management of the new state run banks, Landsbanki, Kaupthing and Glitnir, in a parliamentary session at Althingi yesterday, declaring them undirected.

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

“Landsbanki, the country’s largest banks, is adrift and, in fact, also the two smaller banks, Kaupthing and Glitnir. Everyone can see it,” Ólafsson said, describing the banks as the three primary pillars of the Icelandic economy, Morgunbladid reports.

Among the changes that have taken place and the MP disapproves of is the resignation of Landsbanki director Elín Sigfúsdóttir, an experienced banker, who, Ólafsson said, had been “pushed out” of her post.

In that context, Ólafsson also mentioned the decision of the Landsbanki’s chairman, Ásmundur Stefánsson, to go to India for a month after having secured his position with the board until next fall.

Party group chairman for the Social Democrats Lúdvík Bergvinsson denied that the banks were being left undirected. “If I remember correctly the finance minister at the time, Árni Mathiesen, appointed all the boards that currently govern the banks and then presumably also Ásmundur Stefánsson, a highly experienced banker.”

Chairmen of the boards of New Glitnir and New Kaupthing, Valur Valsson and Magnús Gunnarsson, iterated their immediate resignation yesterday, after having first announced it on Tuesday, despite Minister of Finance Steingrímur J. Sigfússon’s request that they remain in their posts until the banks’ general meetings in April, Fréttabladid reports.

Valsson and Gunnarsson explained that they had decided to resign following comments by members of the government parties, the Social Democrats and the Left-Greens, that room should be made for changes to the banks’ senior managements.

Ólafsson claimed that their resignation further weakens the position of the bank boards, as stated in Morgunbladid, while Sigfússon told Fréttabladid that, “The boards of the banks are naturally still operational and the vice-chairmen will just have to serve as chairmen until the boards have been reorganized. But I had of course preferred them staying until the general meeting.”

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