Shadow Investigation Committee Member Confesses to Crime Skip to content

Shadow Investigation Committee Member Confesses to Crime

Ásbjörn Óttarsson, an MP for the Independence Party, who has a seat on a parliamentary committee that will react to the findings of the investigation committee for the banking collapse, has confessed to having been in breach of the law when he paid himself and his wife ISK 20 million (USD 156,000, EUR 111,000) in dividends in 2007 for the fishing company Nesver. The dividends were paid for 2006 when the company’s equity was negative.

Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

Óttarsson made the confession on RÚV’s news magazine Kastljós on Wednesday, but emphasized that it had not been his intention to break the law. “I didn’t know [that it was illegal] and repaid the money as soon as I found out,” he said.

Óttarsson said he had discovered that his actions had been illegal after a Fréttabladid journalist asked him about the dividends last week. “I am only human and I don’t have knowledge of accounting,” he said, offering to be tested with a lie detector on live broadcast to prove that he wasn’t lying.

Chairman of the Independence Party Bjarni Benediktsson told Fréttabladid that since Óttarsson has realized and made up for his mistake, “it shouldn’t influence his position as an MP or the confidential work he is involved in.”

Birgitta Jónsdóttir, the Movement’s representative on the shadow investigation committee, urged Óttarsson on Kastljós last night to show a good example by stepping down from the committee while his case is being investigated.

The committee’s chair, Left-Green MP Atli Gíslason, assumes that Óttarsson’s case will be discussed within the committee but would otherwise not comment on it to the media, Fréttabladid reports.

The Economic Crime Department of the National Commissioner of the Icelandic Police has not had time to look into Óttarsson’s case, according to the department’s prosecutor, Helgi Magnús Gunnarsson.

“There is permission for punishment if people violate regulations on the payment of dividends. But I haven’t gathered information to prove anything and therefore I can’t comment on this,” Gunnarsson said.

Fréttabladid was unable to reach Óttarsson yesterday.

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