Sigrún Davíðsdóttir's Icelog

Archive for August, 2010

Viking-raider spotting

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There are the train spotters, bird spotters, yacht spotters, plain spotters – and now the Viking raider spotters! Viking raider spotting has turned into a popular hobby in Iceland where emails and rumours circulate with news of ‘last-seen’. There must be an upcoming website soon.

As I was writing the last log, on Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson, I got an email from an Icelandic friend with the news that Bjorgolfsson had been seen in front of a fitness centre. He was talking loudly on the phone, in English, ‘as if he owned the place,’ my friend added.

Recently, I heard of Larus Welding jogging in North London where he now lives (as is clear from the court documents in the charges Glitnir is bringing against Welding, Jon Asgeir Johannesson, his wife Ingibjorg Palmadottir, Palmi Haraldsson and others in New York). Welding was the Glitnir CEO who served Johannesson and Haraldsson rather too well, according to the charges.

A couple of weeks ago the newspaper DV heard of Hannes Smarason being in town, in Reykjavik. Smarason has been living in London the last few years. DV did try to spot him but always came too late – he moved around faster than the DV photographer. When DV visited a villa in an attractive part of town that used to belong to Smarason the wife of Magnus Armann answered the door bell and drove the reporter away. As the paper pointed out, this was interesting since Armann has been closely linked to many of Jon Asgeir Johannesson’s now failed investments and the two have been closely linked to Smarason as well. They still stick together, DV concluded.

Landsbanki lent money to Smarason to buy this villa, indeed he bought two, next to each other. As with the three flats in Gramercy Park that Landsbanki financed for Johannesson Landsbanki has been unwilling to clarify if the bank has repossessed Smarason’s villa. It seems clear that the loan hasn’t been paid but it seems that he still has use of the villa where his friends the Armanns have been staying according to DV.

Apart from the spotting: it’s intriguing to see that now, almost two years after the collapse of the three Icelandic banks and various other financial institutions most of the former high-fliers are still flying high. Gone are the yachts and the private jets, as far as we know, but they all seem to be in business and, with only two exceptions (Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson and Magnus Thorsteinsson) certainly not personally bankrupt.

Glitnir was the first – and so far the only – bank to bring charges against those who according to the report of the Althingi Investigative Commission did so dismally run down the Icelandic banking system. We are still waiting to see what Kaupthing and Landsbanki will do – the managers and the biggest shareholders in these two banks acted no less questionably, according to the report, than the ‘cabal of businessmen led by a convicted white collar criminal Jon Asgeir Johannesson,’ to use the phraseology from the Glitnir charges in New York.

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Written by Sigrún Davídsdóttir

August 2nd, 2010 at 8:21 pm

Posted in Iceland