Sheik Al Thani got 50 Million Dollars for Lending his Name to Kaupthing Bank Deal Skip to content

Sheik Al Thani got 50 Million Dollars for Lending his Name to Kaupthing Bank Deal

A phone call between two former Kaupthing Bank employees who are now top managers at Arion bank revealed that a big transaction of shares in Kaupthing in September 2008 was funded by the bank. According to and other sources the purpose of a complex scheme behind the transaction was to hide the fact that Ólafur Ólafsson, owner of Samskip shipping and one of the owners of Kaupthing at the time, was behind the deal.

Kaupthing headquarters. IPA Photo.

Al Thani, an Arabic Sheik, allegedly bought a 5 percent share in Kaupthing in September 2008. According to interrogations of the special prosecutor over Halldór Bjarkar Lúdvígsson, previously a Kaupthing employee but now an Arion bank manager of corporate finance, “the boys in Luxemburg” were primary actors in the complex business plot. According to Lúdvigsson’s testimony CEO Hreidar Már Sigurdsson and Kaupthing Luxemburg manager Magús Gudmundsson organized the transaction.

Ólafur Ólafsson, Photo: Samskip

In a recorded phone call between Lúdvigsson (HBL) and internal auditor Lilja Steinthórsdóttir (LS) the plot is described. According to a report of the phone call has been leaked to DV.

LS: OK, why was Choice created, or what type of company was it?

HBL: This was one more BVI company, you see.

LS: Yes is this just to cover the tracks, or why is it done like this?

HBL: Yes this is in fact done to hide the fact that Óli [Ólafur Ólafsson of Samskip] owned half of this, you see.

LS: Yes, OK.

HBL: The only way to get flagged on this [reporting a 5% share by an individual] was this company, owned 100% by the sheik.

LS: That the sheik owned it all.


LS: But what were these US dollars for, how should they be used?

HBL: This was fundamentally just a kickback the sheik should get for, for being involved.


HBL: And then as a matter of fact the sheik had been promised that he would get 50 million dollars.

LS: Yes.

HBL: Right away.

LS: Yes.

HBL: To, you see, to, you see, yes you see as a payment for lending his name to this, you see.

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