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Iceland Mag

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Former CEO of Kaupþing bank wants judge to recuse himself on account of Facebook likes and work for anti-corruption organization

By Staff

  • Former CEO of failed Kaupþing Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson emerging from the courtroom at the Reykjavík District Court in 2014. Photo/Pjetur Sigurðsson.

Lawyers for former CEO of failed Kaupþing bank want a judge to recuse himself from a case involving allegations the managers of Kaupþing fraudulently transferred large sums to a company called Marple Holdings and for a subsequent purchase of bonds from the company. The Special prosecutor alleges that all in all the accused fraudulently transferred 8 billion ISK (63 million USD/56 million EUR) to the company in 2007-8.

Embezzlement, fraud and breach of trust
The Special Prosecutor has charged Hreiðar Már Sigurðsson, the former CEO of Kaupþing, and Guðný Arna Sveinsdóttir, the former CFO of Kaupþing, with embezzlement in the case, Magnús Guðmundsson the CEO of Kaupþing Luxembourg for participating in the embezzlement and Skúli Þorvaldsson, investor and the listed owner of Marple Holdings, for cover-up. The former Kaupþing bosses have claimed innocence while Skúli has denied having actually owned the company.

Read more: Seven years ago today: the TV address which signalled the beginning of the Icelandic financial collapse

Now the lawyers of Hreiðar Már have requested one of the judges in the case, Ásgeir Brynjar Torfason, recuse himself the local news site visir.is reports. The lawyers believe the judge cannot be considered impartial due to several Facebook likes, Twitter posts, an anonymous blog post they allege was written by Ásgeir and his work for a non-profit which fights corruption. The Reykjavík District court will consider these demands today.

Ásgeir, who is an Assistant Professor at the University of Iceland, teaching finance and accounting, is a board member of Gagnsæi an Icelandic NGO which has applied as the Icelandic chapter of Transparency International.

Argue anti-corruption bias and Facebook likes justify a re-trial
The lawyers of Hreiðar Már argue that by "liking" Facebook posts and articles critical of the conduct of Icelandic bankers in the lead up to the collapse of the financial system in 2008, by his other activity on Social media and involvement with anti-corruption organization Ásgeir has demonstrated he cannot be considered impartial in the case. They demand he therefore recuse himself from the panel of judges. If Ásgeir recuses himself the case it must be reheard by the court.

Read more: Seven former Kaupthing bankers sentenced for market manipulation

The case is the latest in a series of high-profile cases against the former managers of Kaupþing. Earlier this year the Supreme court of Iceland sentenced Hreiðar Már and Magnús to prison for 5,5 years and 4,5 years in prison respectively for market manipulation. Seven top managers of Kaupþing were sentenced by the Reykjavík District Court in a second market-manipulation earlier this summer.

The Reykjavík District court will hand down its verdict in the current case on Friday, 9 October.

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