Minister of Industry Össur Skarphédinsson said that if Central Bank governor and chairman Davíd Oddsson had warned some ministers about the upcoming collapse of the banks but failed to warn others, he had deceived both the Ministry of Industry and the Icelandic public at large.
In his meeting with the Althingi parliament’s Trade Committee yesterday, Oddsson claimed that he had informed the government in June of this year that there was a nil percent likelihood of the banks surviving upcoming turbulences, Fréttabladid reports.
Minister of Industry Össur Skarphédinsson (right) and Minister of Finance Árni M. Mathiesen at the public meeting in late November. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.
Skarphédinsson does not recollect receiving that information and neither does Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir, leaving Skarphédinsson to conclude that Oddsson had only informed some government ministers of the banks’ critical condition.
“I can only conclude that [Oddsson] deceived at least myself and others citizens of this nation by submitting a report in the name of the Central Bank last May on the financial stability of the banks which indicated that the situation was stable,” Skarphédinsson said.
Foreign Minister Gísladóttir issued a statement yesterday in response to Oddsson’s words:
“The chairmen of the government parties did not have any meeting with the Central Bank governor [Oddsson] last June. Such a meeting was however held on July 8. The Central Bank governor said many things during that meeting but he never said that there was a zero percent likelihood that the banks would survive the difficulties in financial markets.”
Skarphédinsson emphasized his opinion that Oddsson and the other two governors of the Central Bank should step down. He also stated that Oddsson was harming the Independence Party and that he was incapable of doing his job.
“He is bullying the leadership of the Independence Party. He seems to use every opportunity to damage it. It appears to me as if he is trying to split the party,” Skarphédinsson stated.
Prime Minister Geir H. Haarde, who is chairman of the Independence Party, said he does not interpret Oddsson’s vow to return to politics as a threat. “If he wants to go back to politics and resign from the [Central] Bank, I’m not going to prevent him.”
Haarde also said that he is pleased with Oddsson’s work as Central Bank governor and chairman and that he has no reason to fear that Oddsson might attempt to split the Independence Party.
Click here to read more about Oddsson’s vow to return to politics.