More Icelanders named in Panama Papers

The now famous Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama.

The now famous Mossack Fonseca law firm in Panama. Photo: AFP

Finnur Ingólfsson, former Governor of the Central Bank of Iceland and Minister for Industry and Commerce, is among several prominent people in Iceland named in the Panama Papers.

Some 600 Icelanders are said to be named in the documents – the highest per capita rate in the world. The list also features the names of an Icelandic corporate executive and a newspaper editor.

A few names were revealed yesterday when a screenshot from the Swedish SVT television programme Uppdrag Granskning was published by the Icelandic newspaper DV. The screenshot showed a working document used by investigative journalist Jóhannes K. Kristjánsson.

Finnur Ingólfsson, former Governor of the Central Bank of Iceland ...

Finnur Ingólfsson, former Governor of the Central Bank of Iceland and Minister for Industry and Commerce. Photo: Þorkell Þorkelsson

Among people on the list is Finnur Ingólfsson, former government minister and Governor of the Central Bank of Iceland.

Ingólfsson was an MP from 1991 to 1999 and served as Minister for Industry and Commerce 1995-99. From 2000 to 2002, he served as Governor of the Central Bank of Iceland. 

Ingólfsson confirmed with our sister publication mbl.is that he held a 50% share in a company called Adair. According to him, the company was formed in 2007 through Icelandic bank Landsbankinn in Luxembourg.

There are many Icelanders on the list shown on Swedish ...

There are many Icelanders on the list shown on Swedish TV. Photo: Screenshot SVT

“Landsbankinn managed this company fully,” Ingólfsson said.

The company made some small investments, but those investments were lost. The company was wound up and closed in 2010. Ingólfsson claims that he had no idea whether this was somehow done through the legal firm Mossack Fonseca in Panama, but maintains it certainly was done via Landsbankinn.

Róbert Wessman, Chairman and CEO of the Alvogen.

Róbert Wessman, Chairman and CEO of the Alvogen. Photo: Iceland Monitor/Ómar Óskarsson

Róbert Wessman, Chairman and CEO of the Alvogen pharmaceutical company is also on the list. Wessman is also the former CEO of Actavis.

According to a statement released yesterday by Wessman’s spokesperson, Wessman founded the investment company Aceway via Landsbankinn in Luxembourg to manage his shares in the Actavis pharmaceutical company.

Aceway was set up on the basis of a recommendation by Landsbankinn and based in Panama.

Actavis offices in Iceland.

Actavis offices in Iceland. Photo: Larus Karl Ingason

Actavis was at the time a publicly traded company in Iceland and Wessman’s share in the company was always included in statements to the Icelandic stock exchange. Listing Actavis on a foreign stock exchange was under consideration at this time, and it was therefore considered more convenient to set Aceway up in this manner.

Wessman’s statement says that Wessman always declared his Panama company to Icelandic tax authorities and proceeds from the company were taxed as income, not capital gains. The company has operated since 2007, when Actavis was delisted from the Icelandic stock exchange. 

Eggert Skúlason, Editor of DV.

Eggert Skúlason, Editor of DV.

Eggert Skúlason, editor of the Icelandic newspaper DV, is also among people mentioned on the list.

DV was in fact the first news outlet in Iceland to break the news of the list on its website (link in Icelandic) and published the screenshot of working document. Skúlason confirmed with mbl.is that he had had an offshore company, although the name of the company on the list is incorrect.

At the time, Skúlason was working for Avion Group, which had operations in sixty countries. He was then not an elected official or a practicing journalist.

Skúlason said the Icelandic tax authorities had looked at the matter and that he had declared and shared everything. He did not know of the Panama-based legal form – his understanding had always been that the company was registered in Luxembourg via Landsbakinn.

Jóhannes K. Kristjánsson.

Jóhannes K. Kristjánsson. Photo: Heiðar Kristjánsson

Visual database opened in May

According to Icelandic journalist Jóhannes K. Kristjánsson of Reykjavik Media, who has studied the Panama Papers and worked with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, some 600 Icelanders are named in the papers.

“People call me non-stop and ask for the list,” Kristjánsson told Icelandic news outfit Fréttatíminn in an interview (link in Icelandic).

“There is no such thing. I have search access in a database where Icelandic names have been found, but I have no permission to release a list. Only ICIJ can do that. In May, the consortium will open a visual database for searching names with ties to offshore companies.”

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