PM “Had Nothing to Hide” Skip to content

PM “Had Nothing to Hide”

Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, has spoken out about his wife’s business affairs after several days of increasingly awkward silence.

The Prime Minister’s wife, Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir, has been under fire since it recently came to light that a company she owns, called Wintris, holds around a billion krónur in Tortola—one of the world’s most notorious tax havens. Sigmundur told Fréttablaðið newspaper that he kept quiet about his wife’s company’s existence for so long because there was no legal or ethical reason compelling him to go public.

Sigmundur says he also did not give particular attention to the potential necessity of telling finance minister and leader of his coalition partner the Independence Party, Bjarni Benediktsson, about the company. He believes it is “totally ridiculous” to think that a ISK 500 million (EUR 3.5 million/USD 4 million) claim by his wife’s offshore company on the estates of the old bankrupt Icelandic banks would have any impact on his position, or dealings with the banks’ other claimants.

Asked whether or not he thought about his wife’s interests as a claimant on the banks during his dealings with them and all their claimants, Sigmundur says he “has always viewed all Icelanders as claimants on the banks.”

Many people, including MPs and ministers, had many different interests to protect following the banking crash—for example in the form of pensions—but did not see any reason to go public with their financial affairs. The emergency laws following the crash served to protect bank deposits and currency market funds in the banks, but “still no minister or MP saw reason to explain how much he was protecting in assets for himself or his family,” Sigmundur says.

Later in the interview, he is asked which ministers and MPs he is specifically referring to, and he replied: “All those MPs and ministers who had money in the banks, in accounts, in currency market funds, or families who had similar assets, MPs who have large pension funds will be seriously affected by how this financial restructuring is conducted. In all these decisions, people have had to deal with major interests,” Sigmundur Davíð said.

Sigmundur agrees that hiding assets and hiding money in tax havens is a very serious matter, RÚV reports, but insists that Wintris has never been a secret and that it is ridiculous to use the term ‘tax haven’ in this case, because the company pays taxes in Iceland.

Sigmundur says he has not for a moment considered resigning and that the opposition’s suggestion to propose a vote of no confidence in him is “totally bizarre”.

The ‘scandal’ has dragged on for over a week already and so far this is the only interview the PM has taken—despite repeated requests from all major media outlets.

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