Iceland may seek damages from Britain for terrorism laws

19th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Iceland said Monday it may seek compensation from Britain over the anti-terrorism laws it imposed on Reykjavik after the 2008 collapse of the Icesave bank that had thousands of British savers.

"We will... try our best to see if we can present damage claims," Icelandic Minister of Economic Affairs Arni Arnason told Icelandic radio RUV.

London used anti-terrorism legislation to freeze Icesave assets in Britain, in effect listing Iceland's central bank as a terrorist organisation. The move has left deep-rooted resentment among Icelanders.

Iceland's finance ministry recently published a report claiming that Britain's decision to implement anti-terrorism legislation when the assets of Icesave's parent bank Landsbankinn were frozen 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.

Arnason said he thought the indirect damage was significant.

"I have a feeling, without having proof, that the damage to our reputation because of the terrorist laws being used and Iceland's financial isolation after the crash, might be more."

Icelandic Finance Minister Steingrimur Sigfusson told RUV Sunday it was not clear how much of the damage could be attributed to the actions of the British authorities, and said the matter had to be investigated more closely if Iceland were to seek compensations.

Icesave's parent company Landsbankinn collapsed at the end of 2008.

Icesave had some 340,000 British and Dutch savers who lost their savings in the collapse.

Britain and the Netherlands dished out a total of 3.9 billion euros ($5.5 billion) to reimburse those people.

Landsbankinn announced in early September that its recovered assets would be enough to repay all "priority claims" and still have 13 billion Icelandic kronur (80 million euros, $114 million) left over.

© 2011 AFP

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