While Chinese investor Huang Nubo was denied by the Minister of the Interior the ability to purchase land in Iceland, a little-known law allows the Minister of Industry to allow him to invest in the country.
As reported, Minister of the Interior Ögmundur Jónasson gave his final answer to Huang’s request to buy land in Iceland directly: being a citizen from outside the European Economic Area (EEA), this is a transaction he cannot engage in.
However, Huang has remained interested in finding ways to invest in Iceland’s tourist industry, with the apparent help of Minister of Industry Katrín Júlíusdóttir.
The news service of television station Stöð 2 reports that Social Democrat ministers have been trying to find another way for him to invest in the country. Now it appears a loophole has been found.
The law, which regards new investors to Iceland, gives the Minister of Industry the power to form a “concession committee”, comprised of representatives from the Ministries of Industry, Finance and Business, who then would submit their recommendation to the Minister of Industry, who would then decide on whether or not to make a concession.
Huang apparently submitted an application on January 18 to long-term rent the area he originally wanted to buy, Grímsstaðir, where an Icelandic company he owns would build a 100-room luxury hotel. Furthermore, he also wants to build a 300-room 5-star hotel in the capital area.
The amount of help Huang is receiving from the Social Democrats can possibly be explained by his connection with many important Social Democrat politicians. In addition to the assistance Katrín is affording him, he is good friends with Hjörleifur Sveinbjörnsson, the husband of former Foreign Minister Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir. Huang Nubo and Hjörleifur have apparently been friends for a long time, and it has been reported that during a visit to Iceland last year, Foreign Minister Össur Skarphéðinsson lent him a ministry car for being shown around the country.