The Panama Papers and Iceland – ISK 31.6 billion in the Virgin Islands

A vote of no confidence on Iceland’s ruling government is planned for today when parliament reassembles after Easter break, and now, with the Panama Papers made public yesterday, it gained a whole new merit. Iceland´s prime minister in particular faces demands to step down and there are loud calls for a hurried election from the public. The protest planned in Austurvöllur, outside the parliament today at five saw an upsurge and now has over 7000 people pledging participation. Opposition leaders have been deliberating a motion calling a vote of no confidence in the prime minister – in effect for a hurried general election. A revolt against the prime minister in parliament may depend in part on the position of his partners in coalition government, led by the finance minister, Bjarni Benediktsson, also linked to offshore accounts in Tortola.

The financial affairs of Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson and his wife have come under scrutiny in the past few days and peaked yesterday with the details revealed in the Panama Papers; documents from a Panamanian law firm that helps clients protect their wealth in secretive offshore tax regimes. The files from journalist Mossack Fonseca amount to one of the biggest data leak to journalists ever, and Icelandic politicians, businessmen and women and have a prominent role. Gunnlaugsson is among leading politicians around the world with links to secretive companies in offshore tax havens. On Mars 11th he walked out in the middle of a television interview with the National Broadcasting Service of Iceland and Swedish reporter Sven Bergman from SVT after faced with questions about his finances in Tortola.

The coverage yesterday was a stern reminder of the 2008 financial crash and the obscene boom leading up to it in Iceland when it was common practice for companies and business men and women to keep their assets in tax havens abroad. The public in Iceland has a strong reaction to yesterdays coverage. It has been made public that Icelanders still possess ISK 31.6 billion (USD 247 million, EUR 219 million) in the British Virgin Islands, according to new figures from the Central Bank of Iceland.