Iceland’s incoming Prime Minister, Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, has told Alþingi that holding offshore funds is not illegal and not a major problem, assuming that assets and activities are above board and that taxes are paid in Iceland.
He added, however, that using tax havens to hide money and to deprive society of tax revenue is a very serious matter and Iceland should examine its laws and procedures to see whether things could be tightened up.
He was speaking in response to a question from Left Green leader Katrín Jakobsdóttir, who asked what he plans to do about Icelanders’ dubious world record for holding lots of offshore accounts and companies.
Sigurður Ingi also used his response time to urge all elected officials and people connected to other banks and other companies, who have seen fit to hide assets abroad, to do the right thing and return their money to Iceland.
The Icelandic political establishment has been in turmoil since it was revealed on Sunday April 3 that three government ministers were implicated in the global Panama Papers scandal, relating to offshore businesses. The Icelandic PM decided to step aside from his role, though to remain an MP and the leader of his party. The other two implicated ministers remain and there is palpable public anger and calls from some for new elections right away.