Assets of Sigur Rós remain frozen

The Reykjavík District Court has rejected the demand by members of the Icelandic avant-rock band Sigur Rós to nullify a decision, made by the Reykjavík police commissioner, to freeze their assets as a security toward taxes due in the amount of ISK 800 million (USD 6.45 million, EUR 7.33 million). This was reported by Fréttablaðið this morning, but the District Court ruled in the case last week.

The director of customs demanded the freezing of assets, after the three band members’ alleged tax evasion had been under investigation since January, 2016, covering taxable income for the period 2010-2014.

The ruling, posted on the District Court’s website, states that tax authorities believe the alleged violation of tax laws to be very serious and to fall under Article 262 of the Criminal Code, thereby involving a penalty of up to six years in prison, or a fine.

The largest pending tax claim is against Jón Þór Birgisson (Jónsi), or ISK 638 million. Four of his real estate properties have been frozen, in addition to a 50 percent ownership in three other properties. Likewise, a bank balance of ISK 10.6 million has been frozen, two motorcycles, two cars and ownership in three companies.

Assets belonging to the other two band members, Georg Holm and Orri Páll Dýrason, in the amount of ISK 40-43 million have also been frozen. The total value of frozen assets for all band members is, thus, ISK 490 million (USD 4.49 million, EUR 3.95 million).

The three insist they have always invested in the consultation of experts in tax return and accounting to ensure accurate tax returns. They claim to have been surprised when the investigation into their tax affairs began.

They criticize the extent of frozen assets, claiming that those have increased in value since they were frozen and now exceed the amount of the alleged tax evasion. The judge rejected that argument.

The director of taxes points out that the three have not accounted for ownership of all their foreign assets on their tax returns, but those assets were revealed during the investigation. Therefore, the concern is that unless the assets remain frozen, there is a risk that they will be transferred abroad, where collecting them is much more difficult.

An attorney for the band members is quoted as saying that the ruling will be appealed to the Land’s Court.

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