Icelandic opposition leader denies Macau corruption allegations

bjarni-benediktssonBjarni Benediktsson, leader of Iceland’s Independence Party has protested claims he was involved in a property speculation racket in Macau.

The company whose board Benediktsson used to chair, had shares in another company which is linked to the Macau situation and is now under investigation by Iceland’s Special Prosecutor into the economic collapse. The case is potentially one of the largest the Special Prosecutor has been involved in to date.

The DV newspaper broke the story of Benediktsson’s ties to the Macau property speculation and has covered the same issue before; but that time in connection to the Milestone holdings company, owned by Karl and Steingrimur Wernersson.

The project focused on the purchase of 68 luxury apartments in a tall tower in the self-governing Chinese city of Macau. The Icelandic insurance company, Sjova also took part in the project, which ended up overburdening it. The state had to inject ISK 12 billion into Sjova to save it from bankruptcy. Glitnir and Islandsbanki put ISK 4 billion into the project.

Bjarni Benediktsson is connected to the fiasco due to having been chairman of the board at BNT, which owns the oil company N1. Benediktsson was in his role at BNT when the company Vafningur ehf was set up with BNT holding a large stake through another third company.

The Macau project was ascribed to Vafningur in 2008 as collateral for refinancing of company debts.

Benediktsson responded to the allegations saying they are an attempt to discredit him and that he knew nothing of the project being used as Vafningur collateral until long after the event.

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