The Panama leak that has taken the world by storm also put Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson in a tough spot. The leaked documents showed detailed information on an offshore company owned by the prime minister and his wife since 2007. The prime minister is being urged to resign after the revelation.
The controversy surrounds the leak of 11 million documents from Panama law firm Mossack Fonseca. The documents revealed offshore tax havens of the world’s rich and the powerful, which also includes a number of former and current heads of states.
The interest in the offshore company, Wintris, was not declared by Gunnlaugsson when he entered the parliament in 2009. Eight months later he sold 50 percent of the company to his wife for US$1 (AU$1.32).
The opposition parties have called for a no-confidence vote against the prime minister later this week. Around 10,000 protesters gathered outside the parliament, blowing whistles and chanting slogans. Many of them were waving bananas to indicate that they are living in a banana republic.
“He’s just lost all credibility,” the Guardian quoted Arntho Haldersson, a financial services consultant, as saying. “Our prime minister, hiding assets in offshore accounts. After all this country has been through, how can he possibly pretend to lead Iceland’s resurrection from the financial crisis? He should go.”
According to the documents signed by Gunnlaugsson’s wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, in 2015, millions of dollars of inherited money was invested in the company. The prime minister said no rule was broken and that his wife did not benefit financially from the investments.
The documents leaked on Sunday showed that Gunnlaugsson and his wife were granted a general power of attorney over the company. This allowed him to manage Wintris “without any limitations,” the BBC reported.
Wintris made significant bond investments in three major banks in Iceland. The banks collapsed as a result of the 2008 financial downturn. The company has been listed as a creditor with millions of dollars in claims of the banks’ insolvencies.