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Hundreds Protest Sale of Íslandsbanki Shares

Several hundred people gathered in Austurvöllur square on Friday to protest the government’s recent sale of shares in Íslandsbanki bank, and the way the sales were handled. Pirate Party MP Halldóra Mogensen was among the speakers at the protests and called on Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson to resign. RÚV reported first.

The protest was co-organized by ASÍ-UNG, the youth branch of the Icelandic Confederation of Labour, which works to ensure that the interest of young people remain priorities on the trade union association’s agenda. They were joined by activist group Jæja, the Young Pirates, the Young Social Democrats, and the Young Socialists.

See Also: Many Íslandsbanki Buyers Have Already Sold for Profit

Íslandsbanki was fully owned by the government until last year, when it sold a 35% stake in the bank, something that had been on the government agenda for years. While that first offering was open to the public, last month’s offering was solely open to professional investors. The second sale was successful, reducing the government’s stake in the bank from 65% to 42.5%. The government has been criticised for the latter share offering’s lack of transparency, and for the 5% discount buyers received on the shares’ market value.

Of the 207 investors who purchased shares in Íslandsbanki bank in a private share offering last month, 132 have already sold some or all of their stake in the formerly state-owned bank, Kjarninn reports. The sellers have made a cumulative profit of ISK 1.6-2.1 billion [$12.3-16.2 million; €11.4-15 million]. Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson had previously stated that the aim of the share offering was to acquire long-term investors in the bank.

Screenshot, Vísir

See Also: Central Bank of Iceland Investigating Íslandsbanki Sale

The Central Bank of Iceland confirmed to Stundin that it has opened an investigation into the government’s March 22 sale of a 22.5% stake in Íslandsbanki bank. However, what specific matters about the sale are under investigation is not clear.

‘Out with the oligarchs, out with corruption’

Vísir reports that Professor Þorvaldur Gylfason, chair of the VR trade union Ragnar Þór Ingólfsson, People’s Party MP Ásta Lóa Þórsdóttir, and Socialist MP Gunnar Smári Egilsson were also speakers at the protest.

“We’re protesting the sale of Íslandsbanki and how it was handled. Who was allowed to buy shares,” said Gunnar Smári.

“We are protesting a corrupt government that is incompetent and tiresome,” said Atli Gíslason, chair of the Young Socialists. His colleague Kristbjörg Eva Andersen Ramos added:

“Out with the oligarchs, out with corruption. We want a just society.”

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