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Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Iceland President Refuses to Sign Bill to Compensate UK Investors

by Calculated Risk on 1/05/2010 02:23:00 PM

From the Guardian: Iceland president vetoes collapsed Icesave Bank's bill to UK

Iceland was plunged back into crisis after its president refused to sign a bill promising to repay more than €3.8bn (£3.4bn) to Britain and the Netherlands after the collapse of the country's Icesave bank in 2008.

Olafur Grimsson said he would force a referendum on the deeply unpopular legislation, causing a schism within the Icelandic government, with prime minister Johanna Sigurdardottir maintaining that the money would be repaid.

The escalating row threatens to further destablise the Icelandic economy, which went into meltdown after the failure of its three big banks, cutting off further aid from the International Monetary Fund and jeopardising efforts to join the European Union. The credit rating agency Fitch immediately downgraded Iceland, describing the latest political row as a "significant setback".
And from The Times: Iceland blocks repayment of £2.3bn to Britain
The British Government's already stretched finances came under further pressure today when Iceland's President vetoed the repayment of a £2.3 billion loan from the British taxpayer.

The cash was paid out by Britain in 2008 to compensate UK investors in Icesave, whose parent bank Landsbanki had collapsed.

Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, handed over the money because he had promised that UK savers would not lose a penny to Landsbanki's bankruptcy.
... I have decided, according to Article 26 of the Constitution, to refer this new Act to the people. As stated in the Constitution, the new Act will nevertheless become law and the referendum will take place “as soon as possible.”

If the Act is approved in the referendum then naturally it will remain in force. If the referendum goes the other way, then the Act No. 96/2009, which the Althingi passed on 28 August, on the basis of the agreement with the Governments of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, will continue to be law, recognizing that the people of Iceland acknowledge their obligations. That Act was passed by the Althingi with theinvolvement of four of the parliamentary parties, as stated in the President’s declaration of 2 September.

Now the people have the power and the responsibility in their hands.