Friday

24th Feb 2017

Iceland puts former PM on trial over financial crisis

Iceland's former Prime Minister Geir Haarde on Monday (5 March) became the world's first leader to be put on trial on charges of negligence over the 2008 financial crisis.

Haarde, who was a premier from 2006 to 2009, is being accused of "gross negligence" in failing to prevent the collapse of Iceland's top three banks - Glitnir, Kaupthing and Landsbanki – all heavily involved in risky investments on the US real estate market.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Icesave ad in London: Britain is demanding compensation for the bankrupt bank (Photo: mydogminton)

One of the main architects of Iceland's transformation from a fishing nation into a financial services hub, Haarde is also accused of failing to control the country's fast-growing banks and of having withheld information indicating the country was heading for financial disaster. He faces a sentence of up to two years in prison if found guilty.

"None of us realised at the time that there was something fishy within the banking system itself, as now appears to have been the case," Haarde told the Reykjavik court on Monday. He denied all charges and said that "only in hindsight is it evident that not everything was as it should have been."

Unlike EU countries, Iceland allowed its banks to go bust. The tiny nation of 320,000 people was forced to borrow €7.5 billion from the International Monetary Fund and other lenders, but its economy has since rebounded and was upgraded to investment status by Fitch ratings agency in February.

Icelanders in a referendum last year also rejected a deal aimed at paying some €4 billion in compensation to the UK and the Netherlands, whose citizens had put their savings in Icelandic banks. This has turned into a major irritant in Iceland's EU membership bid, which sees waning support among its people.

A February poll carried out by Gallup shows that only 26.3 percent back EU membership, down from 37 percent in January. A referendum on joining the EU may be held as early as next year, its government said.

Netherlands: 'No way now for Iceland to join EU'

Mixed messages on the status of Iceland's EU accession application are coming from different actors in the bloc. But a member of the Dutch government's Council of Economic Advisors has said that after Iceland's second rejection by referendum on an agreement intended to resolve a bitter banking dispute between the Hague and the small island, there is now "no way" Iceland will be able to join the European Union.

Iceland voters reject Icesave deal for a second time

Iceland's bitter row with the Netherlands and the UK over the loss of billions of depositors' money in a collapsed online bank has reached a new stage after Icelandic voters on Saturday rejected for the second time a deal to resolve the issue.

Greece and creditors break bailout deadlock

Athens agreed on budget cuts worth up to €3.6 billion and extracted some concessions from creditors, but the IMF warned the package might not be enough.

News in Brief

  1. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  2. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  3. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  4. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  5. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions
  6. Irish PM expected to quit amid police scandal
  7. After Brexit vote, 100,000 UK firms registered in Ireland
  8. Bayrou to support Macron in French presidential election

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  2. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  3. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  4. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  5. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  6. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  7. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  8. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  10. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  11. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  12. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year

Latest News

  1. Don't blame Trump for Europe's insecurity
  2. EU rules out post-Brexit 'hard border' with Northern Ireland
  3. Fewer EU pupils being taught two foreign languages
  4. Women and child refugees face abuse in French camp
  5. Russian military creates 'information force'
  6. Spain MPs to probe €60bn bank bailouts
  7. Crowded race to win EU medicines agency
  8. Fighting environmental injustice in Europe