How A Tycoon Almost Sued Himself - The Reykjavik Grapevine

How A Tycoon Almost Sued Himself

Published January 14, 2013

Icelandic tycoon Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson almost ended up going to court against himself in 2008, a former employee says.
Wikileaks spokesperson Kristinn Hrafnsson posted a telephone conversation he had with Jón Ásgeir in November 2008. At that time, Kristinn was one of the hosts of the investigative news show Kompás, which aired on television station Stöð 2. Jón Ásgeir learned that the show was going to report in part about him, and was none too pleased with what he heard. The phone conversation, Kristinn posted, went as follows:

Jón Ásgeir: “Are you contending on Kompás tonight that I transferred money into a tax shelter in Tortola?” (One of the British Virgin Islands, where Jón Ásgeir was alleged to have moved money.)
Kristinn: “Would you just watch the show like everyone else before you comment on it?”
Jón Ásgeir: “If you’re going to do this, I’m going to sue you.”(Just as an aside, the word choice Jón Ásgeir chose for “to sue” was “að súa”; an Icelandification of the English word – the actual Icelandic term for “to sue” is “að fara í málsókn”)
Kristinn: “Very well. All the same, it’s only fair to point out that I have a contract which states that if I am sentenced to pay damages due to the show, it is the media company itself that pays. So you would actually be suing yourself.”(Stöð 2 is a part of the 365 media company, which was owned by Jón Ásgeir at the time.)
(Silence.)
Jón Ásgeir: “You’ve got a point.” (This part he is quoted as saying in English.)

Kristinn then points out that Kompás was canceled the following January, and all of its employees fired.
Jón Ásgeir has been on the defensive lately. As the Guardian reports, the newspaper Fréttablaðið (which is owned by his wife, Ingibjörg Stefanía Pálmadóttir) ran an article written by Jón Ásgeir, wherein he said in part, “I am saddened that I have been persecuted by the authorities for 10 years. From August 2002 I have been an official suspect [in criminal inquiries]. This has been a heavy burden for me and my family … That is what is happening in this case and others.”
Jón Ásgeir has previously threatened to sue the former Minister of Justice over a book he wrote about the history of Baugur Group, the company Jón Ásgeir owned, and has as well as tried to have a journalist fired for making a joke about him on the internet.

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