Icelandic editor resigns under a cloud

gavel1Oskar Hrafn Thorvaldsson, the News Director at Stod 2 TV, Bylgjan Radio and the Visir.is news website has resigned over a news story released last July.

Thorvaldsson called a last-minute staff meeting yesterday morning to bid his journalists farewell. The resignation is said to come directly because of yesterday’s formal withdrawal of a news story from last summer on in the wake of a recent court ruling. The original story concerned alleged transfers of large sums of money out of Iceland immediately before the banking collapse by father-son businessmen Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson, Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson and other close parties.

Visir.is, Stod 2 and Bylgjan are all owned by 365 Media, which is owned by the family of Jon Asgeir Johannesson. Johannesson’s wife, Ingibjorg Palmadottir is registered as the company’s biggest shareholder.

Stod 2 has been (perhaps) surprisingly quick to criticise its owners and their business dealings. Even this week, Stod 2 and Visir were reporting that tax authorities have completed freezing Jon Asgeir and other FL Group former owners’ assets after promising to do so earlier this year.

Two weeks ago Stod 2 reported on two 10-year bullet loans allegedly obtained by 365 Media owners secured on already over-leveraged property. The loans equalled ISK 440 million (USD 3.4 million). The news outlets’ owners responded harshly to the news and Jon Asgeir described it as an outright lie.

Given Oskar Hrafn Thorvaldsson’s turbulent relationship with his employers, he could not expect their unequivocal support and so decided to resign. The question is now, who will replace him?

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