The four ex-managers of Kaupthing, recently held in custody in Iceland where the office of the Special Prosecutor is investigating Kaupthing, are now free to travel. After Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, Magnus Gudmundsson, Ingolfur Helgason and Steingrimur Karason were released from custody they weren’t allowed to leave the country. That ban has now been repealed. The four of them have all been living in Luxembourg.
Sigurdsson was the bank’s CEO, Gudmundsson was the manager of Kaupthing Luxembourg, Helgason was the CEO of Kaupthing Iceland and Karason was the head of risk. Gudmundsson was kept as a manager after the Rowland family, owner of Blackfish Capital, took over Kaupthing Luxembourg but after he was remanded in custody Magnusson was dismissed from his job at Banque Havilland. After the collapse of Kaupthing the three other ex-Kaupthing managers set up a company in Luxembourg, Consolium and had i.a. business relations with Gudmundsson.
As I’ve mentioned in earlier Icelogs there are plenty of rumours around the Blackfish acquisition of Kaupthing Luxembourg. The Rowlands have from the first firmly denied any Icelandic connections or that there are any Icelandic owners among them. They claim that since they had already in mind to set up a bank buying a bank, although in a moratorium, was a simpler process than building up one from scratch.
That’s no doubt true in the sense that Kaupthing already had a client basis – but according to sources that I spoke to in Luxembourg when I was there last week it’s no easier, rather the opposite, when taking over an existing bank. Since Kaupthing was in moratorium the new owners will have been thoroughly scrutinised by the CSSF, the Luxembourg financial services authority. Buying will not have been a short-cut to get a banking license in Luxembourg.
The rumours haven’t died down and probably won’t until further light is thrown on Kaupthing’s operation by the OSP and the SFO, also investigating Kaupthing. After the OSP had meetings last week with authorities in Luxembourg, Belgium and representatives from the SFO and Europol it now seems likely that Luxembourg will become a party in these ongoing investigations and that the investigations will possibly be linked through Europol. Clearly, the possibly fraud that Kaupthing is being investigated for has ramifications far beyond Iceland.
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