From Iceland — Mysterious Phone Call Between Oddsson And King Brings Criticism At Home

Mysterious Phone Call Between Oddsson And King Brings Criticism At Home

Published January 25, 2011

The secrecy surrounding a recorded phone conversation between then-Central Bank chairman Davíð Oddsson and Bank of England governor Mervyn King regarding Icesave has brought harsh criticism from politicians here at home.
As has been reported, at a time when Iceland and the UK have just struck a new deal over Icesave – one far more satisfactory to the government and opposition alike – Morgunblaðið editor Davíð Oddsson has claimed in the business newspaper Viðskiptablaðið that he had received assurances from King in 2008 that the UK was not going to compel Iceland to cover Icesave deposits.
“I was very heartened to hear this and thanked him,” Oddsson said in part. “This conversation is on tape. Usually we did not record conversations such as this one, but for some reason it was done in this case.”
King denies every word, with a spokesman telling The Guardian, “The accusation is completely untrue. The governor told David Oddsson he had to act in the interests of Iceland. The governor had been urging the central bank of Iceland for many months to reduce the size of its banking system. He wrote to Mr Oddson on 23 April 2008 making this point clearly.” At the same time, King has sought to keep the tapes of the conversation he had from Oddsson from seeing the light of day, saying that the matter is confidential.
Here in Iceland, many Icelanders are sceptical of politicians in general to begin with, let alone former Central Bank chairmen from any country.
Þór Saari, an MP for the Movement, is reported by Vísir as saying that he condemns the secrecy surrounding this phone conversation.
“It is a very unnatural situation that one would have to demand all related material be made public,” Saari said in part. “It is inappropriate that a large portion of the governing body is hidden in secrecy.”

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