The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2021 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.
Foreign Exchange

Iceland does its cods

It has long been a mystery just how Iceland supposedly generated the wealth to go on its acquisition sprees around Europe. For a country with just over 300,000 people, and seemingly very little in the way of industry other than cod fishing and aluminium smelting, Iceland certainly punched way above its weight.

The long-touted rumour was that it was basically being used as an offshore centre to launder dodgy money flowing out of Russia. This didn’t seem to stop people doing business with it or even depositing money in its banks – including many local authorities in the UK. In recent times, Iceland has been able to buy a few trophy assets, and a few that no one else really wanted, such as West Ham United Football Club.

As the country’s banking system collapsed this week, its government seemed to admit that its wealth had been built on money-laundering. I reached this conclusion by adding two and two together and hopefully coming up with four. I can’t think of any other reason why Russia would so generously pump in €4 billion to help it through the current crisis. If I was the chief executive of an Icelandic bank, though, I would be feeling extremely nervous about the whole thing; after all, there are certain people whose money it is best not to lose.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree