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Iceland’s Sigur Rós Accused, Then Cleared, Of Tax Evasion

Iceland’s Sigur Rós Accused, Then Cleared, Of Tax Evasion

Alice Demurtas
Words by
Photos by
Art Bicnick

Published March 16, 2018

Local media outlet Fréttablaðið reported this morning that members of popular band Sigur rós have recently been accused of tax evasion following an inquiry by the Directorate of Tax Investigations in Iceland.

The District Commissioner in the capital area immediately froze around 800 million ISK worth of assets (or 8 million USD) belonging to the band members at the request of the Directorate of Customs.

The assets of vocalist Jón Þór Birgisson, aka Jónsi, make up the majority of the total: they include thirteen properties, two motorcycles, two cars, six bank accounts and shares in three companies for a total value of 638 million ISK (6.4 million USD). In addition, 82 million ISK worth of assets (820 thousand USD) belonging to drummer Orri Páll Dýrason have also been frozen, as well as two properties valued at 78.5 million ISK (790 thousand USD) that belong to bassist Georg Hólm.

An inadvertent mistake

The musicians objected to the Directorate’s decision arguing that the mishap had actually been caused by an inadvertent mistake made by their accountant rather than an intentional tax evasion master plan. Sure enough, Morgunblaðið reported some hours later that the musicians had already paid their astronomical debt, including interest.

“This was quite annoying and extremely costly for us,” Georg told the newspaper. “We thought we had a good relationship with this accountant, we fully trusted him, but then it turned out he hadn’t handed in the right documents at the right time. This is nothing but a complete mess that we had no knowledge of until we were notified by the Commissioner.”

It’s still unclear how much money in taxes the band members owed the state, but considering the amount of assets that have been frozen, it can be assumed that the musicians owed at least hundreds of million ISK. According to Icelandic laws, in fact, it’s illegal for institutions to freeze or detain assets at a higher value than the debt itself.


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