Chance of Iceland suing Britain over anti-terror increases

20th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Iceland's prime minister said Tuesday chances had increased her government would sue Britain over anti-terrorism laws it imposed on Reykjavik after the 2008 Icesave bank collapse.

"I think the chances have increased since we considered this last time. We are in a different position now," Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir told AFP after a government meeting to discuss the possibility of a lawsuit.

London used anti-terrorism legislation to freeze Icesave assets in Britain to rescue thousands of Britons' savings, in effect listing Iceland's central bank as a terrorist organisation.

The move has left deep-rooted resentment among Icelanders, but an initial probe by Reykjavik into whether a lawsuit was possible advised against taking legal action.

"A lot has happened since," Sigurdardottir said, pointing out that at the time Britain and the Netherlands still had large claims against Iceland over the Icesave collapse.

"Things have of course changed since then, so there is ample reason to let the legal team look into it again, and I think the government and the parliament should cooperate on how we move forward," she said.

Iceland's finance ministry recently published a report claiming that Britain's decision to implement anti-terrorism legislation and freeze the assets of Icesave's parent bank Landsbanki cost Iceland between 2.0 and 9.0 billion Icelandic kronur ($17-77 million, 12-56 million euros).

It also estimated the damage to Icelandic companies at about 5.2 billion kronur, and claimed the indirect damage was much more, impacting the reputation of the country's economy and companies.

Economic Affairs Minister Arni Arnason told AFP Iceland would now need to "analyse the causality so we can prove there is a connection between the action and the damage."

"Then we need to estimate the damage... Then we have to find out how to present the case and to which venue we could present it," he added.

Icesave's parent company Landsbanki was one of Iceland's three major banks that all collapsed in October 2008.

Britain and the Netherlands dished out a total of 3.9 billion euros ($5.5 billion) to reimburse 340,000 of their citizens who lost savings in the Icesave collapse.

Icelanders have in two referenda rejected plans to repay the British and Dutch governments at high interest rates.

However, Landsbanki now says its recovered assets will be enough to repay the entire amount, and Reykjavik has expressed optimism the whole dispute will soon be settled.

© 2011 AFP

0 Comments To This Article