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Cablegate: Icesave Vote Delayed Again

VZCZCXYZ0046
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHRK #0227 3641611
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301611Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY REYKJAVIK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4247
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC PRIORITY

UNCLAS REYKJAVIK 000227

SIPDIS

TREASURY FOR NORTON
NSC FOR HOVENIER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL ECON IC
SUBJECT: ICESAVE VOTE DELAYED AGAIN

REF: Reykjavik 219

1. (U) The Icelandic parliament was expected to vote on the Icesave
bill on December 30; however, new information emerged on the eve of
the vote that may further delay a resolution to the issue. The
media is reporting that the Icelandic negotiating team, which
concluded the original Icesave agreements in March with the British
and Dutch governments, may have withheld pertinent information from
the Icelandic Government. Specifically, the negotiating team did
not pass along an opinion from the British law firm Mishcon de Reya
stating that the British Government may have improperly seized a
British subsidiary (Heritable Bank) of the Icelandic bank Landsbanki
as the financial crisis hit Iceland in early October 2008. Some are
now arguing that, had the Icelandic Government been aware of this
information, it could have pressed for better terms in its
negotiations with the British and avoided much of the ensuing
displeasure with the Icesave agreement.

2. (U) The chairmen of the opposition parties were disturbed that
this information was only coming to light now and insisted that they
receive additional time to analyze this new development. They also
demanded that the head negotiator who withheld the information,
Svavar Gestsson, be summoned to a Budget Committee meeting to
explain his actions. Parliamentary debate on the Icesave bill was
expected to conclude on the morning of the 30th with a vote shortly
thereafter, but discussions only resumed in the late afternoon after
a delay of several hours. With just nine parliamentarians left to
speak, some still believe that a vote on the Icesave issue is
imminent, while others think it will not take place until after the
new year.

3. (U) Approximately 100 protestors gathered outside of the
parliament building on December 30 for a previously scheduled
protest against the Icesave vote. The demonstration occurred
peacefully and no police intervention was needed. There are reports
that additional demonstrations are organized for the upcoming days.
WATSON

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