From Iceland — Walls Closing In On Prime Minister In Wake Of Panama Papers Coverage

Walls Closing In On Prime Minister In Wake Of Panama Papers Coverage

Published April 4, 2016

Andie Sophia Fontaine
Photo by
Screenshots from RÚV

The morning after a disastrous interview with the Prime Minister aired, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson is circling his wagons.

Last night, Icelandic viewers were treated to a special episode of the investigative television news show Kastljósið, illustrating a number of prominent Icelanders’ connections with offshore funds and accounts. This data was the result of intensive investigations by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) and Reykjavík Media, and was derived from a massive leak, comprising over 2 terrabytes of data, from Mossack Fonseca, a Panamanian offshore provider.

In one part of the show, viewers were shown an interview with Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, taken by Swedish television company SVT, who was later joined by Jóhannes Kr. Kristjansson of Reykjavík Media, which was recorded last March.

As can be seen, the Prime Minister went on the defensive when asked about his connection to Wintris Inc. He accused Jóhannes of having “tricked him into an interview”, refusing to answer the questions posed to him, and walking out. The Prime Minister’s office reportedly contacted those involved with the interview and told them not to make this video public. Shortly thereafter, his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir, made a post on Facebook disclosing some of the facts about Wintris Inc.

MBL reports that the Prime Minister arrived this morning to attend an impromptu meeting of the Progressive Party parliamentary core. Photographers were denied access to this meeting, and the Prime Minister refused to answer reporter’s questions.

RÚV reports that the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten sought comments from the Prime Minister this morning. Sigmundur Davíð reportedly not only refused to answer their questions – he also locked himself in his car with his wife. Shortly thereafter, police arrived on the scene and told Aftenposten’s photographer to leave the area.

In the wake of this, the parliamentary opposition will be submitting a vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister today. Iceland’s former Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir, expressed the opinion that Sigmundur Davíð must resign.

For his part, the Prime Minister said he will talk to the media later today.

The Panama Papers leak shows that Anna Sigurlaug bought Wintris in 2007 in order to invest family money. When Sigmundur Davíð entered parliament in 2009, he failed to disclose his 50% stake in Wintris, but sold his share eight months later to his wife for $1 USD.

A protest demonstration scheduled to take place in front of parliament today, demanding early elections, already has some 8,400 people pledging attendance. The Grapevine will be covering these protests as they unfold.

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