Panama Papers: Iceland's prime minister walks out of interview over tax questions

Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson faces calls for a snap election after it was revealed he co-owned an offshore company

Samuel Osborne
Monday 04 April 2016 08:58 BST
Iceland's prime minister walks out of interview over tax questions

Iceland's prime minister walked out of an interview when asked about his investments in an offshore company.

Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson was asked by Sweden's SVT television, about a company called Wintris, which he and his wife bought in 2007.

In the video, published by the Guardian, Mr Gunnlaugsson assures the interviewers no rules were broken and says everything "is declared on the tax report from the beginning".

He then walks out of the interview, saying: "What are you trying to make up here? This is totally inappropriate."

In the biggest data leak so far, 11 million documents held by Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca were passed to the German newspaper Seddeutsche Zeitung, which shared them with 107 media organisations around the world.

The leaked documents show Mr Gunnlaugsson co-owned Wintris Inc. with his wife Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir.

Court records seen by the BBC show Wintris had investments in the bonds of three major Icelandic banks which collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis. The company is listed as a creditor with millions of dollars in claims in the banks' bankruptcies.

Mr Gunnlaugsson did not declare an interest in the company when entering parliament in 2009 and sold his 50 per cent share to his wife for $1 (70p) eight months later.

He resisted pressure from foreign creditors to repay the banks' deposits in full - which may have adversely affected both the banks and the value of the bonds held by Wintris.

Since the interview, the prime minister's office has said his shareholding was an error and "it had always been clear to both of them that the prime minister's wife owned the assets".

A spokesman said joint share certificates had been issued because the prime minister and his wife had a joint bank account.

The prime minister now faces calls for a snap election. Former prime minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir said he would have to resign if he could not regain the public trust, urging him to "give a straightforward account of all the facts of the matter".

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