Former Baugur boss Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson has stepped down from the board of frozen food specialist Iceland and confirmed that he has also retired from the House of Fraser board after a $2bn fraud lawsuit was filed against him in the US.

Jóhannesson said that he will defend himself against the claims made by Glitnir that he “looted” the nationalised Icelandic bank ahead of its collapse in 2008.

A statement released today by financial PR Kraeb Gavin Anderson said Jóhannesson’s decison to step down from the two boards was “taken with regret in order to avoid any unwarranted damage being caused” to the retailers while he defends himself against the claims.

The statement added that he “fully intends to defend himself against the claims made by Glitnir Bank and reiterates his innocence in relation to all the false allegations made”.

It added that no further comment would be made while legal proceedings are underway.

Glitnir last week launched a $2bn (£1.3bn) lawsuit against Jóhannesson in the US and the UK High Court froze his worldwide assets. It then emerged he would retire from the House of Fraser board.

The winding up board of Icelandic bank Glitnir accused Jóhannesson of a “sweeping conspiracy” to “fraudulently drain over $2bn out of the bank” when he was its leading shareholder before its collapse in 2008.

At the height of its power, Baugur controlled a swathe of the UK high street including Hamleys, Oasis, Warehouse, Karen Millen, Whistles and held stakes in publicly-listed businesses Debenhams and French Connection, until Baugur also collapsed in the wake of the Icelandic financial crisis.