Bankers jailed, sued as Iceland seeks culprits for crisis
More than a year and a half after Iceland's major banks failed, all but sinking the country's economy, police have begun rounding up a number of top bankers while other former executives and owners face a two-billion-dollar lawsuit.
Since Iceland's three largest banks -- Kaupthing, Landsbanki and Glitnir -- collapsed in late 2008, their former executives and owners have largely been living untroubled lives abroad.
But the publication last month of a parliamentary inquiry into the island nation's profound financial and economic crisis signaled a turning of the tide, laying much of the blame for the downfall on the former bank heads who had taken "inappropriate loans from the banks" they worked for.
On Wednesday, the administrators of Glitnir's liquidation announced they had filed a two-billion-dollar (1.6-billion-euro) lawsuit in a New York court against former large shareholders and executives for alleged fraud.
"I think this lawsuit is without precedence in Iceland," Steinunn Gudbjartsdottir, who chairs Glitnir's so-called winding-up board, told reporters in Reykjavik.
"It is about higher figures than we have ever seen," she said, adding that she expected Glitnir to file more lawsuits going forward, but that "it is unlikely any will be this big."
Glitnir said it was suing "Jon Asgeir Johannesson, formerly its principal shareholder, Larus Welding, previously Glitnir's chief executive, Thorstein Jonsson, its former chairman and other former directors, shareholders and third parties associates with Johannesson for fraudulently and unlawfully draining more than two billion dollars out of the bank."
The bank also said it was "taking action against its former auditors PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) for facilitating and helping to conceal the fraudulent transactions engineered by Johannesson and his associates, which ultimately led to the bank's collapse in October 2008."
Glitnir's suit, filed in the New York state Supreme Court on Tuesday, blamed most of the bank's woes on "Johannesson and his co-conspirators," who had "conspired to systematically loot Glitnir Bank in order to prop up their own failing companies."