Former Kaupthing bank boss wanted by Interpol

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The Independent Online

The former chairman of Kaupthing, the Icelandic bank that collapsed in 2008, has been added to Interpol's wanted list.

Sigurdur Einarsson, who was publicly blamed by Gordon Brown for the failure of the bank, lives in west London. He reportedly told prosecutors in Iceland that he is willing to return to the country and help with the investigation into the bank's demise, but on condition that he is not arrested.

Described on the international law enforcement agency's website as bald with blue eyes, and weighing 251lbs, he is accused of counterfeiting, forgery and fraud. Visitors to the website are asked to contact their national or local police force if they have information on Mr Einarsson.

Kaupthing imploded in October 2008. The British government decided at the time to guarantee the deposits of all British savers, but hundreds of savers that had opened an online savings account with the bank are still waiting for compensation.

The Icelandic authorities have launched as many as 20 criminal investigations into the collapse of Kaupthing and the other failed Icelandic banks, Landsbanki and Glitnir. The country's banking system caved in when wholesale markets ceased up in the wake of the Lehman Brothers crisis. Until then, the likes of Kaupthing had been able to offer market-beating interest rates to savers by funding itself cheaply in the debt markets.

Two of Mr Einarsson's former colleagues have also been detained by the Icelandic authorities. The special prosecutor appointed to investigate Kaupthing's collapse last week ordered the arrest of the bank's former chief executive Hreidar Sigurdsson on suspicion of forgery, embezzlement and market manipulation. Magnus Gudmundsson, another former executive, has also been arrested.

As Interpol said that it was seeking Mr Einarsson, another major figure in the Icelandic banking crisis was issued with a $2bn lawsuit. Jon Asgeir Johannesson, the retail entrepreneur behind Baugur and biggest shareholder in Glitnir, is being sued for his role in the bank's demise. The lawsuit, filed by the winding-up board overseeing Glitnir's liquidation, also targets PricewaterhouseCooper, accusing it of "facilitating" the alleged fraud. PwC said that it had no knowledge of the lawsuit, adding that it had not been contacted.