Mayor of Kópavogur Gunnar Birgisson is not planning to respond to calls for his resignation from the opposition in the town council due to extensive trade between Kópavogsbaer municipality and a company owned by Birgisson’s daughter.
From Kópavogur. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.
“I don’t believe that I have done anything wrong in this case,” Birgisson told Fréttabladid, however admitting that it does look suspicious because his daughter is the owner of the company in question.
Suspicions that laws were violated are primarily based on the nature of the bookkeeping, Birgisson explained, and criticism in that regard will be taken into consideration, adding that the municipality’s divisional manager and Kópavogur’s anniversary committee must have made a mistake.
Kópavogsbaer’s trade with Frjáls midlun, the company owned by Birgisson’s daughter, amounted to ISK 39 million (USD 305,000, EUR 217,000) in a period of six years. Kópavogsbaer was the company’s largest customer during that period.
One of the remarks in a report undertaken by auditing company Deloitte on this matter was that ISK 3 million (USD 23,000, EUR 17,000) were paid to Frjáls midlun for making a book because of Kópavogur’s 50th anniversary in 2005 which was never published.
The report concluded that laws on official purchase may have been broken since tenders for the projects in question were not made and no offers were called for, contrary to statements made by Birgisson.
The report also includes remarks on several bookkeeping errors, although they may have been coincidental. Furthermore, written contracts are lacking and in some cases value added tax (VAT) was repaid without permission.
“I’m shocked,” said Ómar Stefánsson, chairman of the Progressive Party in Kópavogur, which forms the coalition in the town council along with Birgisson’s Independence Party.
Stefánsson said he is very discontent with the nature of trade between Kópavogsbaer and Frjáls midlun. “It is very serious and not in the spirit of how we’d like to work here.”
According to Stefánsson, a meeting will be held in his party’s representative council today on how to proceed in the matter. He would also like to launch an investigation into whether similar trade methods were undertaken with other companies.
Stefánsson expected that he would discuss the matter with Birgisson during their regular meeting today.
Gudrídur Arnardóttir, the representative of the Social Democrats on the Kópavogur town council, said Birgisson’s explanations are nothing but equivocation.
“The fact remains that he is the highest-ranking official of the town and is responsible for its operations. We cannot look past the fact that this company is owned by his daughter; the trade with this company is very unnatural and he cannot slip away from that responsibility,” Arnardóttir said.
Fréttabladid was unable to receive a comment from chairman of the Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson because of this story last night.