Musings, politics and environmental issues

Archive for February, 2018

Arion Bank now in control of United Silicon

Arion Bank has now taken over virtually all of United Silicon’s (USi) assets. When the company went into liquidation, Arion took over a total debt of around ISK 10 billion (nearly $US 100 million) incurred by Usi over preceding months. The bank has already written off almost ISK 5 billion.

The bank intends to make the necessary improvements to make the plant operational again and then to sell the plant to a buyer. Alternatively, the buyer will make the necessary improvements, which are expected to take 18 months to two years and will also involve a new environmental impact assessment.

A new company, Eignabjarg, will be set up around the operation. Prospective buyers of Eignabjarg should contact Arion Bank. Apparently there has been some interest, but personally I doubt the plant is sellable.

On a related note, the new PCC silicon metal plant in North Iceland is about to start up. It will be interesting to see how things turn out for them, given the experience of USi. PCC have no qualms (ostensibly) about how their plant will fare – but the start has been delayed since December and like the USi smelter, it is located very close to residential areas, and they say that residents should expect odours during the start-up period. Prospective buyers of Eignabjarg will no doubt follow news of PCC’s operation closely….

Nothing has been heard from Thorsil recently. They intend (or maybe it’s now intended – who knows?) to build a silicon metal plant directly opposite that of USi in Helguvik. They are also probably waiting to see what will happen at the PCC plant in the north.



Icelandic bank officials and their prison sentences

Many people looked enviously at Iceland after the 2008 bank crisis when, at the instigation of Eva Joly, a Special Prosecutor was appointed to look into the misdemeanours of high-ranking banking officials and the part they had to play in the bank crash.

The process has now basically been completed, although six cases are still before the courts and some bank officials have appealed their sentences to the Supreme Court or even to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

All in all, 36 people have been convicted for a total of 96 years in prison. Of these, 11 received a total of 36 years prison for cases related to Kaupthing (now Arion bank), 7 received a total of 25.25 years in cases related to Glitnir (now Islandsbanki) and 7 received 13 years in total for offences related to Landsbanki.

Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson from Kaupthing and Larus Welding from Glitnir received three convictions for a total of 7 years and 6 years respectively, while Magnus Gudmundsson from Glitnir got 6 years. All three have cases pending. The penalty framework for economic crime cases /bank crash cases is 6 years, which many people feel is unfair as it means that additional sentences do not incur severe penalties – unlike sentences for prisoners in general.

Note that the bank prisoners have been somewhat demanding, to put it mildly, wanting wine with their meals, horse-riding lessons and the like. However, their requests have not been met. And another Kaupthing prisoner, Sigurdur Einarsson, crashed a helicopter when taking a client on a sightseeing trip one weekend while at the halfway house for prisoners. Say no more.