Sigrún Davíðsdóttir's Icelog

OSP: a step closer to the secrets of Luxembourg

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For three days in February this year the Office of the Special Prosecutor, together with a team of 40 Luxembourg police men, searched the premises of Kaupthing, now Banque Havilland, and other places in Luxembourg in relation to the OSP investigation into Kaupthing. This was one of the biggest actions of this type ever conducted in the Archduchy of Luxembourg. A judge has been ploughing through the documents, believed to be quite a bundle, to certify that the documents retained matched the criteria given by the OSP.

Although the owners of Havilland later claimed that the searches had been unnecessary, the bank would of course have supplied the OSP with all the information it needed, Havilland and 19 others have protested against the handing-over of the documents. A county court in Luxembourg ruled two weeks ago that OSP should have the documents. But that wasn’t the end of story since Havilland e.a. have appealed to the Luxembourg Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the issue in February.

The OSP investigation will unquestionably move quite a bit forward when and if the boxes from Luxembourg land on their desk. Anyone who has glanced at the Kaupthing loan overview from end of September 2008, leaked via the now so famous Wikileaks, will know that a lot of the seemingly dodgy loans stem from Luxembourg (whereas almost all the loans that look normal come from the Danish FIH). The SIC report confirmed much the same. And it wasn’t only Kaupthing that allegedly made good use of Luxembourg for its apparently shady deals: so did Landsbanki and its former major shareholder Thor Bjorgolfsson still has a wide net of companies there. Glitnir’s operation in Luxembourg wasn’t nearly as big as those of the other two.

Waiting until February is somewhat too long to hold one’s breath but the outcome will be waited with great anticipation. The ruling of the lower court gives hope but Luxembourg is famously a country that guards its secrets well; it’s almost palpable. No doubt, those who want its secrets to stay secret will be pushing hard to convince the authorities that this could jeopardise Luxembourg’s interests in the financial sector since it could set a precedence for others. The Rowlands pere et fils, Havilland’s owners, would like to believe that they are very well connected in Luxembourg. But Luxembourg might also discover that aiding transparency is where the wind is blowing for now.

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Written by Sigrún Davídsdóttir

December 17th, 2010 at 11:16 pm

Posted in Iceland

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