9 Feb 2009

Central bank head refuses to go

10:41 am on 9 February 2009

Iceland's central bank chief David Oddsson has refused to step down despite calls from the prime minister and the public for him to quit over his role in the country's financial collapse.

One of the three governors resigned on Friday and the prime minister told state radio the government would not tolerate the other central bankers remaining.

Prime minister Johanna Sigurdardottir has asked Mr Oddsson in writing him to leave. In a letter posted on the bank's website on Sunday, Mr Oddsson said he would not do so.

He said he had personally warned repeatedly of an impending crisis for the banking system.

Mr Oddsson was previously prime minister for more than a decade before becoming the head of the central bank.

Iceland's financial system collapsed in October after its leading commercial banks failed and trade in its currency virtually ceased. Since then it has received a $US10 billion financial aid package led by the International Monetary Fund.

Following a series of violent protests, the government collapsed in late January and was replaced by an interim centre-left government formed by the Social Democrats and the Left-Greens.