ICELAND’S former prime minister Geir Haarde, the only politician in the world to stand trial for their role in the 2008 financial crisis, will today learn whether or not he is guilty of gross negligence.
In a verdict that many fear will do little to heal the wounds of the meltdown, a court will decide whether the 61-year-old was personally responsible for failing to rein in the country’s banking sector before it imploded. Haarde, who faces four charges, has denied any guilt.
There is growing anger on the North Atlantic island, with many Icelanders wondering why none of the men in charge of the banks that collapsed have been tried – even though a handful of charges have been brought and dozens of investigations are underway.
Iceland’s biggest banks were all taken over by the state in late 2008 after the credit crunch sparked by the collapse of Lehman Brothers froze their access to funds.
Iceland ring-fenced the banks’ domestic operations, letting their international operations go bankrupt.
Some economists have praised Iceland for letting the banks go under, though it remains in a dispute with Britain and the Netherlands over refunds for depositors in Landsbanki, an Icelandic bank that used to operate in those countries.
Capital controls are still in place, damaging the country’s economic recovery and analysts say the Icelandic people are more divided than ever before.