Two companies, handling the collection of the funding for Wikileaks, have demanded that Valitor, which handles VISA in Iceland, should be made bankrupt due to an unpaid claim for damages, amounting to about 10 billion kronas (approx: 75 million dollars) with interests.
The case started in October, 2010, when a contract was made that the company DataCell would take care of running the payment gateway for Sunshine Press Production, the operator of the whistleblowing site Wikileaks, in order to receive funding from the patrons of Wikileaks. Valitor closed the payment gateway on the 8th of July, 2011, without any notice when funding for Wikileaks starting to flow through the gateway.
By ruling of the supreme court from 24th of April 203, it was recognized that it had been an illegal decision of Valitor to close the payments to Wikileaks without any notice and the company was obliged to re-open the gateway, subject to daily fines.
The companies, Data Cell and Sunshine Press Productions, hired Sigurjón Th. Árnason, former CEO of Landsbankinn, to calculate the alleged loss due the decision of Valitor and the outcome of Sigurjón's calculations was that the loss might be in the range of 1-8 billion kronas while the gateway was closed.
In Article 65 of the Act on bankruptcy, there is an authorization for demanding bankruptcy of the debtor's estate if he has not responded to a notification to pay a debt by a statement of solvency.
A notification to pay a debt was sent to Valitor on the 18th of June 2013, but the company didn't respond to it and a notification to pay on the basis of the Act on bankruptcy was sent on the 15th of December last year. Then the company was urged to pay the claim within three weeks. At the same time, the company was urged to declare within the same time limit that the company was able to pay the claim, otherwise it might be expected that a bankruptcy claim would be filed against the estate of the company.
The owner's equity of Valitor according to the latest public annual accounts of the company from 2013 amounts to 7,5 billion kronas .The claim for damages of the two companies amounts to 10,3 billion kronas with interests, but this is a full claim due to an expected loss. Therefore, it is evident that the claim is considerably higher than Valitor's own equity.
In a claim for bankruptcy it says: "Bankruptcy petitioners assume that a claim for bankruptcy against the estate of the company is inevitable, as it is clear the limited company Valitor is not able, in the light of existing evidence, to pay its debt to their bankruptcy petitioners, in due course."
There are no known examples here in Iceland that a bankruptcy claim has been filed against a payment gateway like Valitor and it is not clear what effect such a claim has on the operation of the company.
In addition to a claim for bankruptcy, Datacell has subpoened Valitor for the payment of the damages and there will be a court hearing on Thursday
Not able to show any income during the period of alleged loss
Sigurður G. Guðjónsson, the lawyer of Valitor, says that the company has not received any valid claim for damages. Therefore, Valitor has not been willing to negotiate, even though there is a verdict stating that the company was not authorized to close the payment gateway.
"The annual accounts of Data Cell and Sunshine Press Productions for the period Data Cell served Valitor do not reveal that the company had any income at that time. Sunshine Press Productions, alleged operators of Wikileaks, has never had any income. It is very interesting that companies that have never had any income, even at the time when the payment gateway was open, had suffered a loss, amounting to billions of kronas, " Sigurður says. He also says that there is a difference of opinion on the claims assessor to be called upon in the case.
Sigurður says that it is definitely serious that a claim for bankruptcy has been filed. On the other hand, it will not have any significant effect on the operation of Valitor.
"I think that this will not disrupt the operation, such a claim is not supported any arguments. I don't think that any Icelandic court could accept such a claim for bankruptcy."