Sigrún Davíðsdóttir's Icelog

Glitnir’s case resurrected in New York

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According to Ruv, Icelandic Broadcasting Corporation, the dismissed Glitnir case in New York against earlier major shareholders in Glitnir Jon Asgeir Johannesson, his wife Ingibjorg Palmadottir, businessmen Jon Sigurdsson from FL Group (now Stodir), Palmi Haraldsson (who still owns Icelandic Express), Thorsteinn Jonsson (who owned Coca Cola in Iceland, lost it but might be buying it again with the Spanish Coca Cola) and Hannes Smarason (earlier the high flying CEO of FL Group), Glitnir’s ex CEO Larus Welding and Glitnir’s auditors PriceWaterhouse Coopers, now seems to have been reinstated at the New York Supreme Court.

The drastic move by the bank’s Winding-up Board to sue the group, ‘a cabal of business men led by convicted white-collar criminal Jon Asgeir Johannesson’ according to the thriller-like charges, seemed to have faltered when judge Charles Ramos dismissed the case December 14 on the ground that it was indefensible for him as a judge, paid by US tax payers, to use his precious time on a case that could just as well be heard in Iceland. All the relevant facts pro and con were presented in court on that day. The judge said his heart went out to the investors who lost money but he couldn’t but dimiss the case.

Judge Ramos did however pose two conditions to the defendants for dismissal: the defendants would not contest jurisdiction in Iceland and would have to meet up voluntarily in an Icelandic court; second, they would agree not to raise any jurisdictional or other defences to enforcement of a final judgement in New York on assets that they might retain in New York.

Glitnir didn’t rest but appealed the decision and it now seems to have been reinstated since the defendants didn’t comply to the demands of the judge. From the court filings lately it seems that all of them had to agree to this but that didn’t happen. There have been letters going to the court, the last one, from Hannes Smarason, filed only today. If the latest news is true, the letters from the defendants don’t seem to have satisfied the judge and the flurry of letter have come to nothing.

When Glitnir brought the charges in New York the defendants were both upset and dismayed over this very audacious move, claiming that any case against them could perfectly well be brought up in an Icelandic court, that the WuB was running a personal vendetta and only out on an expensive information gathering exercise. Johannesson, whose assets were frozen internationally last summer by a UK court at the behest of Glitnir, threatened to sue Steinunn Gudbjartsdottir chairman of the WuB and to have her assets frozen. So far, these have been only empty, and somewhat pathetic, words and impotent threats. And now the Glitnir charges seem to threaten the defendants again.

After all the lament on behalf of the defendants, understandably so since it’s no joke to be sued in the US, it’s difficult to understand why the defendants didn’t jump to fulfil the demands of judge Ramos and escape the charges. Whether there is some misunderstanding in this, the defendants were stubborn or got bad legal advise the surprising twist in this Glitnir New York tale seems to be that the Glitnir WuB again is on track with charges in New York. So far, the court documents* have given a fascinating insight into the business surrounding Glitnir and its major shareholders. If the case continues there might be more to come.

*Due to security reasons it’s not possible to go directly to the documents. You will be asked to write down numbers or letters before getting access.

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Written by Sigrún Davídsdóttir

February 24th, 2011 at 12:51 am

Posted in Iceland

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