Sigrún Davíðsdóttir's Icelog

The latest on the al Thani case

with 9 comments

Instead of starting the oral hearings in the al Thani case – where the Office of the Special Prosecutor in Iceland has charged three former Kaupthing managers and the bank’s second largest shareholder – as planned Thursday morning, April 11, the hearings were postponed until further notice. This happened after the defense lawyers of Sigurdur Einarsson and Olafur Olafsson took the unprecedented step not to heed the judge who refused to accept their resignation of the case. In court, prosecutor Bjorn Thorvaldsson pleaded that the two lawyers would receive penalties for willfully causing delays to the case. The judge will consider any such step after the case had finally been heard.

The defendants have now appointed new lawyers who need to read up on the case. The two lawyers who resigned – Gestur Jonsson and Ragnar Hall – are two of the most experienced lawyers in Iceland. Jonsson was i.a. lawyer for Baugur’s main shareholder Jon Asgeir Johannesson in the so-called Baugur case and is also Johannesson’s defense lawyer in a case brought against Johannesson by the Office of the Special Prosecutor, the so-called Aurum case.

The defense in the Aurum case shows a similar trend to the al Thani case. – The oral hearings were due to start in January, got postponed until early April when it was again postponed, this time because documents that the defense team wanted to present were not ready. After the events in the al Thani case Special Prosecutor Olafur Hauksson expressed his worries that similar things might start to happen in other cases brought by the OSP.

The two lawyers replacing Jonsson and Hall – Olafur Eiriksson and Thorolfur Jonsson– are not at all big names in the Icelandic legal profession. The are both from Logos, the largest Icelandic law firm.

The two lawyers who resigned claim they felt forced to resign because of the way their clients have been treated. Still, they have neither filed any complaints nor taken any action. Earlier, they had made several attempts to have the case thrown out or postponed, taking their cases all the way to the Supreme Court, which has rejected their attempts. In its last ruling re the case the Supreme Court reprimanded the two lawyers, saying their case was without merit.

The strong feeling in Iceland is that the two lawyers resigned in order to gain the postponements they could not obtain via the courts. It is well known in big white-collare cases that highly paid lawyers often try all possible tricks to thwart and delay going to court. Both lawyers strongly deny any such tactics.

The judge will meet with the new defense lawyers on April 22, after which it might be clear when the oral hearings will start. Given the complexity of the case, it is quite likely that the next chapter in the case will not commence until autumn.

*Here are earlier blogs where the al Thani case is mentioned – and here is the story behind the charges in the al Thani case. 

Follow me on Twitter for running updates.

Written by Sigrún Davídsdóttir

April 14th, 2013 at 10:20 pm

Posted in Iceland

9 Responses to 'The latest on the al Thani case'

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  1. Sigrún,
    [CAUTION: This comment contains harsh criticisms of Icelandic juris]

    The Equity Investment Opportunity investor pensioners who became victims of the hedgefunds, et al, who purchased Landsbanki and Kaupthing Luxembourg assets (and liabilities), and sought Yvette Hamilius’s and others help to turn the small-investor pensioners, their fellow creditors, into Landsbanki and Kaupthing debtors, so they could fleece them, may be the best ones to ask for explanation of what defendants against the Icelandic Special Prosecutors and the Icelandic Court system are facing, and why the lawyers for those defendants, like those for the pensioners, seek to block the precipitate courts’ fast-track actions to assume adjudicative jurisdiction in the cases of their clients. Those pensioners are in the positions the Icelandic defendants are in.

    In the pensioners’ cases the pensioners’ lawyers have been able to resort to French and Spanish courts, whose judges appear to not be corrupted by the financial stature of the aggressors urging their friends in the Luxembourg court system to use the system to bulldoze and screw the pensioners. In the cases in Iceland the Icelandic jurists appear to be more likely to be just stupid, not corrupt (or, if so, not to the same degree, or as callously, since the influences the Icelandic Judiciary seems to have submitted to appear to be suppositions of what they appear to perceive “socially-responsible” bending of the purpose of jurisprudence).

    The appearance of the Icelandic judiciary being idiologic fools is from the last decisions in the banker and politician related decisions the Icelandic courts handed down. You may recall the particularly peculiar Haarde case, in which a conviction, for “failure to convene enough cabinet meetings” was brought in by the court, apparently only to save prosecution face in a pure show-trial (not even political show-trial) adjudicative-circus event (which a competent court would not have recognized to contain adjudicatable issues).

    It is the case, whether we like or not, that judiciary systems are judged in whole by their lowest judicial common denominators. While there are undoubtedly competent judges in Iceland, the system they are parts of is not judged by them, or their integrities, it is judged by the idiots. The criteria is the same the Luxembourg courts are judged by today, and that the bent British courts, whose complicities in legal-procedure theft actions, on behalf of their financial-sector friends, are judged by. In fact, it may be that some of the better adjudicative minds in Iceland are today pushing to get the present case into court to undo some of the damage done their courts’ reputations by the recent incidents of the courts being used for social engineering purposes, instead of pursuit of justice. The troubles they are running into, if this is the case, are for the misuses of courts rendering the misuser courts untrustworthy. Lawyers judge by the courts’ recent records, and, in cases like the present one, then refuse to willingly participate in show-trial and travesty-of-justice proceedings. In a nutshell, that is what occurred in this case.

    R.L.Dogh

    15 Apr 13 at 12:51 am

  2. I think it is clear that the Icelandic Courts, despite the problems have a much better reputation than the Luxembourg Courts.

    In Luxembourg, the Judicial supervisors of the administrator and the administrator herself seem to have simply refused to investigate allegations of serious fraud and mis-selling, despite the ongoing Criminal proceedings in other European Countries and the top Criminal Judge of France demanding the largest caution in the history of France.
    Most do not think Icelandic Judiciary is a bulldozer happy to mow down the lives of entire families as they struggle to help the pensioners caught in the nightmare wake of a failed Bank scandal!

    There is everything a financial centre should be most ashamed of, in the shocking Landsbanki liquidation and yet the administrator is being allowed to continue as if there is nothing wrong and no questions to answer, with the most arrogant disregard for criminality and abuse of the vulnerable pensioners who trusted Luxembourg to protect their interests.

    The Landsbanki scandal is a disgrace and in no way can the Icelandic Courts be compared to what has gone on in the Landsbanki insolvency administration and the total disregard for the obvious abuse and harassment of elderly people.

    It is said that much effort has been put into fooling the decent people of Luxembourg, ( of whom we know many), into thinking that the pensioners are rich, greedy people rolling in money.
    This no doubt is so that the people of Luxembourg remain ignorant of the reality, which is quite the opposite as this was a ruthless scam to fool retired homeowners with mortgage-free family properties into thinking they could earn some income to boost their pensions and help their children and grandchildren whilst they were still alive.
    These people are victims of lies and mis-selling and Luxembourg is protecting those guilty of abuse whilst treating decent pensioners as criminals and seizing their homes, their lives and bulldozing everything they have worked for in a manner you would not expect from a Banana Republic.
    Iceland has shown great courage and is at least trying to hold the guilty to account which is not what Luxembourg is doing.

    At the same time as we see this gross abuse of the clients of a Luxembourg Bank who were sold the scheme by the managers who sang the virtues of the name of Luxembourg and the wonder of their Luxembourg consumer protection, we are hearing the Luxembourg finance minister, in a speech for the ears of Europe, that he wants US, the clients, the people of Europe, to trust Luxembourg’s Financial sector! It is amazing!

    We are seeing the cruel harassment and abuse of the pensioners and absolutely no sign of any investigation by the Luxembourg judiciary, into any of the allegations of outrageous accounting, disappearing money, lies, mis-selling and false facts, figures and documents used in European Courts to win the Civil Cases and fast-track the seizing of the homes before the criminal case is heard.
    Such abuse is rare .

    I do not know anyone who would not trust Iceland over Luxembourg.
    There should be a case study of the Landsbanki Insolvency administration which should be published throughout Europe as a lesson in HOW NOT TO DO THINGS! It would be difficult to sink lower.
    It would appear that the Luxembourg Courts are very badly judged today and this is making the whole of Luxembourg’s financial sector look bad and untrustworthy.
    Iceland will not be judged so severely as they have produced the SIC Report, have thoroughly investigated and are trying to see justice is done despite the power the guilty can wield in dark corners and the lengths some will go to to protect the bankster.

    Most see Iceland in a more favourable light than they do Luxembourg and the arrogant disrespect shown to clients of the financial sector, many of whom were artificially transformed from creditor to debtor by circus accounting has done nothing but turn the Luxembourg Finance Minister’s words into a risible jumble of nonsense.
    The Landsbanki Insolvency is biting Luxembourg in the butt as it is seen to be one of the worst insolvency administrations in Europe and is even the subject of International Conferences on INSOLVENCY ADMINISTRATION.

    George Ward

    17 Apr 13 at 4:31 pm

  3. George,

    Good to see your take on this. R.G.Dogh’s attempt to liken your position to that of the Icelandic defendants seems disingenuous to say the least.

    There is now a considerable body of evidence to suggest that extensive market manipulation took place at Kaupthing prior to its collapse. The defendants in the present case may or may not be guilty as charged. That is for the Court to determine. But it is hard to interpret the actions of the (now former) defence lawyers, who used every trick in the book before finally throwing their toys out of the pram, as anything other than a cynical attempt to thwart the due course of justice.

    Those, many of whom were also pensioners, who suffered the fall-out from the demise of the new ‘Kaupthinking’ (yes, that’s what they called it in their glossy brochures!) have waited a long time to see some form of justice meted out to those who were ultimately responsible. Now it seems we have to wait even longer.

    I’ve just revisited the brochure that was supplied to the depositors with The Derbysire (Isle of Man) prior to its fateful take-over by Kaupthing in late 2007. If only I’d dug a bit deeper at the time, I might have seen and heeded the warning signs, beginning with “Kaupthing Bank is a Northern European bank … The bank operates in 14 countries including [list in alphabetical order, with Iceland somewhere in the middle]”. Nowhere in the brochure did it say that the parent bank was based in Iceland, something they clearly felt was better hidden. The main headline read “Until you start doing something differently, you are in for more of the same”. If only we could have had more of the same! But indeed that was not to be and within less than a year we were to discover the true meaning of the brash sub-heading “Thinking beyond the short term gain, thinking beyond the status quo” when our hard-earned savings vanished overnight.

    What price then the assurance that “all deposits … are fully guaranteed by Kaupthing Bank hf – with this guarantee customers have peace of mind that their savings are fully secured”? After the collapse, they even tried to deny the validity of this parental guarantee (signed by the Director of Kaupthing Iceland, one of those indicted in the main Kaupthing market manipulation case now awaiting trial), but thanks to the Icelandic Supreme Court that challenge was repudiated (though it stands only as an unsecured claim for the shortfall in the IOM liquidation).

    After 4 1/2 painful years, the depositors of KSFIOM are finally emerging from their long nightmare and heading, almost unbelievably, towards a near 100% recovery (91% to date). But the way has been hard, and few have emerged unscathed. And we are still waiting for those who played fast and loose with our savings to be held to account. I wish the Landsbanki Luxembourg victims well in their fight for a fair and just resolution of their situation.

    anrigaut

    18 Apr 13 at 8:16 am

  4. I endorse Angela’s comments.

    On a lighter note, my suggestion at the time for our Icelandic’s bank’s rebranding was to replace Kaupthing with ‘Kollapsing” and on the later emergence of the slogan ‘Kaupthinking’ with the more appropriate Kaupsinking. However,as Icelandic authorities are obviously not serious about appropriate punishment for those responsible, I think there obviously is still “something rotten in the state of Iceland” (incidentally, I regard the UK quite beyond redemption in this respect), so “Kaupstink” comes to mind.

    Laurence

    Laurence

    18 Apr 13 at 9:00 am

  5. Yes it has been a very Painful 41/2 years this debacle made my daughter and I homeless.. Like others I lost funds from the sale of my House after a Divorce settlement..No Job Injured as a result of Nursing. So security was at a total minimum.. Treatment has been appalling and little support from anyone which has caused further Stress and Anxiety which in 4i/2 years has never left us..I feel bitter that these greedy Bankers have got away with it so far.. I don’t think they have a clue what this has done to ordinary people and still having affects to this day!

    Dawn Richardson

    18 Apr 13 at 1:34 pm

  6. There have been suicides, attempted suicides, stress-induced serious illnesses, depressions, homes lost, lives destroyed and families in anguish as they cannot help the people they need to help in the Landsbanki scandal where so many creditors were turned into debtors and dirty tricks were used before and shockingly in the administration of the bankruptcy of Landsbanki in Luxembourg.

    What is happening within the families of the 600 victims of Landsbanki is a nightmare which Luxembourg is responsable for and their heartless arrogance and lack of respect for the clients of their failed Banks is a disgrace as you say.
    The Judiciary of Luxembourg is a Bankster’s Paradise as they look the other way, whilst the Banksters dance on the graves of their victims and the administrator sings from their song book and pretends to fail to see false accounting and obvious fraud.
    Anyone who banks in Luxembourg does so at their peril!
    The Justice system stinks of all things foul.
    Let us hope Iceland does not follow the Luxembourg example and has the courage to punish the Banksters.

    We feel terrible for the victims of Kaupthing and Landsbanki and all victims of Bank fraud and abuse who are losing or have lost their life savings and who have had their lives taken from them.

    Did Kaupthing also target the pensioners with their scams?

    Rachael Williams

    18 Apr 13 at 7:57 pm

  7. Max WOLFF said :
    ” The failure to face the problem of FRAUD constitutes a huge barrier in the path of economic recovery.
    The banking system can’t be restored until it is taken apart, cleaned up and rebuilt in a transparent and honest manner.”

    The Judiciary of Iceland and Luxembourg and of course the rotten City of London, should be uncomfortable to ignore these FRAUDS .

    If we don’t have fair and honest and functioning financial system, we won’t get out of this crisis and the Judiciary will know they failed to do their important job which is essential for a functioning financial system.
    We need to be able to trust the judiciary to control the Banks as the Politicians never will. Greed and Power seem to get in the way.

    The example of those countries who want to pretend there has been no fraud where it is plain to see , have a judiciary who will be historically responsible for covering-up fraud and helping the Banksters rather than the people they should be protecting.

    George Ward

    19 Apr 13 at 6:12 am

  8. Rachel,

    As far as I know, Kaupthing were not involved in any scams of the sort you are victims of – and certainly not Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander (Isle of Man).

    anrigaut

    19 Apr 13 at 6:47 pm

  9. Thanks anrigaut.

    Did you see that the Luxembourg supervision of the administration and the administration itself of the Landsbanki Lux Insovency has been a topic of International Conferences on INSOLVENCY?

    Google :’ THE OUTSTANDING CASE OF LANDSBANKI: THE JUDICIAL WINDING UP
    THE SCANDAL OF EQUITY RELEASE LOAN
    A JUDICIAL LIQUIDATOR IN TURMOIL’

    This was from the 28/06/2012– INSOL Europe Joint International Insolvency Conference held at Nottingham Law School by Martine Gerber-Lemaire, highly respected for her courage and respect for the real meaning of justice.

    There are some who uphold the values of transparency and Justice and others who prefer the shade and they can be found trying to avoid the spotlight of their Internationally discussed failures and abuse of victims they probably hoped nobody would notice.

    Here is the link.
    http://www.opf-partners.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/Insol-Europe-Academic-Forum-Nottingham-Conference-slides-201206281.pdf

    Rachael Williams

    20 Apr 13 at 10:19 am

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