Tax haven scandal: “Government must go!”

Tortola, British Virgin Islands.

Tortola, British Virgin Islands. Photo: Wikipedia/Henry aw

An Icelandic MP has publicly called for the government to stand down following revelations that one of the companies claiming millions from Iceland’s crashed banks is owned by none other than the wife of the Prime Minister.

Wintris Inc. – owned by Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir, wife of Icelandic PM Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson – lost money as a result the financial crash and is claiming a total of ISK 515 million (approx. €3.7 million) from the three failed banks: Glitnir, Kaupþing and Landsbanki.

Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir and Sigmundur Davíð PM.

Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir and Sigmundur Davíð PM. Photo: mbl.is

“There are two nations in Iceland,” Lilja Rafney Magnúsdóttir (Left-Green Movement) told fellow MPs today. “The ‘power elite’ and the ‘great unwashed commoners’.”

Pálsdóttir’s company is based in the British Virgin Islands – a well-known offshore tax haven – and is demanding money from the bankruptcy funds of Iceland’s crashed banks, a process overseen, at least indirectly, by her husband, the PM.

Glitnir, one of the three Icelandic banks that went bust ...

Glitnir, one of the three Icelandic banks that went bust in 2008. Photo: Kristinn Ingvarsson

Magnúsdóttir criticised the couple for keeping their money in a tax haven while the general public has to keep their money in Iceland and be subject to public finance rules. She also slammed the PM for not appearing in parliament and explaining himself.

Fellow Left-Green MP Björn Valur Gíslason objected to the fact that Prime Minister Gunnlaugsson enjoyed access to all information on claimants to the bank’s assets while at the same time being in a close relationship with one of them.

Svandís Svavarsdóttir MP wants the government out.

Svandís Svavarsdóttir MP wants the government out. Photo: Ómar Óskarsson

It is a matter “of the utmost seriousness” that the PM did not inform Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson of the link, Gíslason continued.

A third MP of the party Svandís Svavarsdóttir went further and called to the government to stand down and call new elections.

Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson apparently knew nothing of the alleged ...

Finance Minister Bjarni Benediktsson apparently knew nothing of the alleged conflict of interest. Photo: Eggert Jóhannesson

Pálsdóttir has defended her position stating that she has never hidden the existence of her company, and all income has been registered and all taxes paid in Iceland. Furthermore, there is clear division of labour within the marriage – she is not involved in politics and the PM is not involved in investment.

The Prime Minister’s political advisor Jóhannes Þór Skúlason has also officially confirmed that there has been no breach of the official rules on the PM’s declaring conflicts of interest.

The official line is that the PM has complied with ...

The official line is that the PM has complied with all conflict of interest declaration rules laid down for the Icelandic Parliament ('Alþingi').

Weather

Overcast

Today

4 °C

Cloudy

Later today

2 °C

Partly cloudy

Tomorrow

3 °C

Exchange rates

USD USD 123.01 EUR EUR 138.50
GBP GBP 157.95 DKK DKK 18.57
NOK NOK 14.53 SEK SEK 13.48
CHF CHF 121.77 JPY JPY 1.08
ISK price of selected currencies, according to the official exchange rate of the Central Bank of Iceland. Updated daily.