The value of Icelandic assets in the tax havens of Tortola, Cyprus, the Isles of Man, Jersey, Guernsey and the Cayman Islands increased by 40 percent last year while, overall, the value of Icelandic assets abroad deteriorated.
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Direct asset holdings in the ownership of Icelanders in well-known tax havens increased by ISK 27.2 billion (USD 219 million, EUR 138 million) in 2008 and amounted to ISK 72.5 billion (USD 583 million, EUR 367 million) at the end of the year, Morgunbladid reports.
At the same time, the value of asset holdings owned by Icelanders abroad decreased by one third overall, or by ISK 463 billion (USD 3.7 billion, EUR 2.3 billion).
According to Morgunbladid, it should be kept in mind that at the same time in 2008, the Icelandic króna depreciated by 44 percent. Therefore the value of these foreign assets increased when converted to ISK.
These are only direct assets, while indirect assets in offshore companies in tax havens through other offshore companies, which were usually registered in the Netherlands or Luxembourg, were also common among Icelandic businesspeople, Morgunbladid states.
Approximately half of the funds that are stored in tax havens, almost ISK 35 billion, are located in Cyprus, where Icelandic assets increased by 45 percent in 2008—by more than ISK 15 billion.
The presence of Icelandic businesspeople in Cyprus has grown in recent years.
For example, the largest shareholder in Landsbanki before the banking collapse, holding company Samson, was in 50 percent ownership of Cypriot company Bell Global Investments, which was owned by father and son Björgólfur Gudmundsson and Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson, Samson’s owners.