From Iceland — At Least Three Ministers With Money In Tax Shelters

At Least Three Ministers With Money In Tax Shelters

Published March 29, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Art Bicnick

Sources close to RÚV have documents showing at least three government ministers have money socked away in foreign tax shelters.

RÚV reports that this information is the result of diligent investigative work conducted by journalists from around the world, and will be formally brought to light in a few days on the news examination show Kastljós. The project is a cooperative effort from Reykjavík Media, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.

The news comes in the wake of a recent scandal Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson is embroiled in, involving his wife and some half a billion ISK being kept in the British Virgin Islands, which has already prompted some 10,000 Icelanders to call for his resignation.

More recently, Stundin has reported that even the Prime Minister’s own father has millions in tax shelters.

The Directorate of Internal Revenue has information and documentation that some 300 to 500 companies owned by or connected to Icelanders use tax shelters.

The names of the ministers involved, how much money they have stashed outside of Iceland and where has yet to be brought to light. The Grapevine will keep readers updated as new information arrives.

UPDATE: Two of the ministers connected to offshore bank accounts have been revealed, RÚV reports – Minister of the Interior Ólöf Nordal and Minister of Finance Bjarni Benediktsson. Both contacted the news office themselves in the wake of the above story, revealing that they have millions in overseas bank accounts. This comes at a time when most Icelanders are still dealing with capital controls.

Bjarni said in his statement that, ten years ago, he bought a third of a holding company that Landsbanki in Luxembourg had established for purchasing real estate in Dubai. He purchased this share of the company for about 40 million ISK. However, he said that he has reported this income to the tax office, and that the holding company is not a tax shelter.

Ólöf said that her husband Tómas, who is the CEO of Alcoa in Iceland, had taken the advice of Landsbanki in late 2006 regarding finances and stock options that were a part of his revenue. She said Landsbanki advised him to set up a “special foreign investment company”, which he did with the aid of Landsbanki in Luxembourg. Dooley Securities was the name of this company, and the bank was listed as its owner. She further contended that neither she nor her husband have gotten anywhere near that company since, which subsequently went under in 2008.

The opposition parties of parliament will meet tomorrow to discuss submitting a vote of no confidence.

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