“Samherji has in every respect complied with the law both as regards foreign exchange transactions and in other matters. The actions taken by the Central Bank of Iceland yesterday are completely unjustified and must either be based on incorrect information or due to other reasons that we are not aware of” says Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, CEO of Samherji hf. As has been revealed, the Foreign Currency Department of the Central Bank of Iceland has conducted a dawn raid on the offices of Samherji hf. The Central Bank of Iceland has not given Samherji’s management any explanation for these actions.
Samherji has made every effort to comply with the Central Bank’s requirements as relates to foreign exchange transactions. All procedures have been examined in detail in co-operation with the Bank’s staff. The Bank’s employees, for instance, visited Samherji’s headquarters in Akureyri last year and were provided with all the data they requested. No comments were issued in the wake of these communications.
Samherji hf. is an international sales company based in Akureyri. Not only does the company sell its own products but also the products of numerous foreign companies. These operations are diverse and have become more complicated since the foreign currency controls were implemented. It appears that the Central Bank of Iceland has had difficulties in understanding this aspect of Samherji’s operations. This may, in part, explain these unusual actions.
The spokesperson of the Central Bank of Iceland has specifically announced to the media yesterday that the Bank’s actions against Samherji are based on “information supplied by an employee of Kastljós [news programme on RUV]”. It is quite clear that Samherji cannot correct misrepresentations when it is unclear what the substance of such misrepresentations is. However, it should be noted, due to the statement issued by the Central Bank as to the Bank’s source of information in Kastljós, that Samherji is aware that the programme believes that it has, over the past few weeks, been investigating Samherji’s exports of redfish to Germany. It is therefore proper to comment on the programme’s potential subject matter and bring it into context:
Samherji sells a considerable proportion of its products through its sales companies, Ice Fresh and Seagold. Pricing in these transactions is, in every respect, correct and normal and no foreign currency that should be handed in is kept back. The redfish transactions, that the television programme and the Central Bank appear to find suspicious amount to around 0.1% of Samherji’s turnover. These transactions, as with all other transactions carried out between Samherji and its subsidiaries, are completely legal and carried out in the same manner as they were long before the currency restrictions were established, and have already been examined by the Central Bank. These rules have been complied with in every respect.
“Such severe and unjustified actions on the part of the Central Bank of Iceland must be considered unique and we declare them to be the full responsibility of those involved”, says Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, CEO of Samherji hf. “I call on the Central Bank to provide its reasoning for the dawn raid so that we can contribute to informing the Central Bank about those aspects for which the Bank wants an explanation and, at the same time, try to limit the damage inflicted on us by these harsh actions.”