Samherji and Iceland Under Scrutiny Skip to content
Photo: Samherji.is.

Samherji and Iceland Under Scrutiny

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir is prepared to ensure any additional funding that may be needed to investigate Samherji’s operations in Namibia. Icelandic banks also report that they plan to investigate their business with Samherji. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) says Iceland’s handling of the bribery scandal will be a touchstone case and plans to follow the matter closely.

Government investigates

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir stated in an interview on Kastljós yesterday that if tax authorities need more funding to conduct an investigation into Samherji’s affairs, it will be provided, so that the issue is researched “with due diligence.” The Prime Minister added that it’s also necessary to consider whether laws need to be amended in order to require large unlisted companies, like Samherji, to submit comparable information to companies listen on the stock market.

Icelandic banks investigate

Arionbanki’s board of directors has requested a detailed examination of the bank’s business with Samherji. Friðrik Sophusson, chairperson of the board at Íslandsbanki, says the board will likely discuss the issue at a meeting today. Helga Björk Eiríksdóttir, chairperson of Landsbanki’s board, stated the bank cannot comment on issues relating to its customers, but is legally bound to carry out statutory supervision of its customers.

Norwegian bank DNB is reviewing the tax component of Samherji’s case. The bank ceased its business relationship with Samherji last year as it deemed the company a money laundering risk.

Björgólfur Jóhannsson, who took over as CEO of Samherji following Þorsteinn Már Baldvinsson’s resignation last Thursday, says that one ship which is part of the company’s foreign operations is financed through an Icelandic bank. Björgólfur says the company will provide banks with information on its finances if it is requested.

Þorsteinn Már has not only stepped down as CEO of Samherji, he has also requested indefinite leave from the board of Síldarvinnslan and stepped down as board director of Faroese fishing company Framherja.

“Touchstone case,” says OECD

Drago Kos, chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery, says the case data appears trustworthy, and the case will be a touchstone for Icelandic authorities. The case is being formally investigated by Icelandic police, and the OECD will follow its development closely.

“For us at the OECD, it will be a good test of the Icelandic police and the prosecution to see how they handle the case,” Kos stated. “We are closely monitoring the case’s progress.” Kos says he hopes Icelandic authorities will address the case “within a reasonable timeframe, in a quick and efficient way,” underlining that the first step is to determine whether the allegations are in fact true.

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