From Iceland — Bjarni Benediktsson Sold Assets Hours Before Financial Crisis

Bjarni Benediktsson Sold Assets Hours Before Financial Crisis

Published October 6, 2017

Jenna Mohammed

Leaked documents suggest current Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson sold all his remaining assets in a Glitnir bank fund called “Sjóður 9“ only hours before the financial crash in 2008.

Bjarni’s name has been associated in the Panama Papers scandal, however he has dismissed any accusations of misconduct. Investigative journalists at the Guardian have no evidence of any crimes committed but the implications are dire. As elections are quickly approaching on 28 October, after his government collapsed over a convicted child sex offender, this does not put him in any better position than before.

Documents show that Bjarni withdrew 30 million ISK from Sjóður 9 four days before the Financial Supervisory Authority took over Glitnir. He requested that 21 million ISK be sold on 6 October. When asked last year if he sold any assets from the fund before the crisis, Bjarni said at the time that he had “some assets at one point” but nothing of importance. Leaked documents prove he had a total of 160 million ISK in March 2008.

Bjarni had a close relationship with Glitnir. This questions his credibility and his transparency about his role as an MP and his ties with one of the bank’s most valued clients. Again, documents suggest on 6 October Bjarni had been in contact with Glitnir executives regarding assets in the same fund belonging to his uncle – worth a little over 1 billion ISK.

Bjarni tells the Guardian that after the crisis he believed it was “not appropriate” to conduct business with the bank. He says, “I sold my shares and equities, resigned all my board positions, and focused on my political career.”

Reports by Ingi Freyr Vilhjálmsson of Stundin and Jóhannes Kr. Kristjánsson of Reyjavik Media are in partnership with the Guardian.

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