Iceland FinMin: no hard feelings over Icesave

With a 60/40 vote against the Icesave repayment deal, Iceland’s Minister of Finance Steingrimur J. Sigfusson says the case will now go to court, but that there are no hard feelings in the Netherlands and the UK.

Initial responses from London and The Hague are disappointment tempered with understanding that Iceland’s direct democracy needs to be respected and not blamed on the government, Sigfusson said.

He added that Iceland will push for the case to go to the ESA court as soon as possible and with no delay. It will still take a year to a year-and-a-half, however.

Sigfusson said that the public ‘no’ vote is not a slap in the face for the government and parliament, because the government always acknowledged that there were outstanding legal questions over Icesave that should be answered in court. The government, however, chose the path of negotiation, believing a negotiated settlement would be best for all involved. Now those legal questions will certainly be answered, he said.

The actual effect of the vote is that the British and Dutch governments remain the biggest claimants on the estate of Landsbanki. A yes vote would have transferred their claims over to the Icelandic depositors’ guarantee fund. Sigfusson told reporters that positive developments in the Landsbanki winding up process mean that priority claimants will receive a significant payout this year and further payments shortly afterwards.

The ongoing political dispute between the three countries will have no effect on the winding up of Landsbanki and the British and Dutch governments can, as things stand today, expect to recoup 90 to 100 percent of their claims. The higher their recovery direct from Landsbanki, the less there will be left over for the governments to argue about, the minister said.

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