Panama Leaks: Iceland’s PM Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson Calls for Parliament Dissolution
Iceland’s PM Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson has asked President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson to dissolve parliament after allegations he concealed millions of dollars worth of investments in an offshore company.
The prime minister faced growing pressure over documents showing he and his wife owned offshore company Wintris.
A big protest was held in front of parliament in Iceland on April 4.
Dozens of high-profile global figures are named in a huge leak from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.
PM Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson put his request to President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson after the opposition proposed a no-confidence motion.
However, Olafur Ragnar Grimsson is reported to be delaying a decision until he has spoken to the main political parties.
After refusing to resign on April 4, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson appeared to come under increasing pressure from within his governing coalition too.
The prime minister took to Facebook on April 5 to outline his latest position.
“I told the leader of the Independence Party that if the party’s parliamentarians think they cannot support the government in completing joint tasks, I would dissolve parliament and call a general election,” Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson wrote.
The so-called Panama Papers leaked from Mossack Fonseca show that Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson and his wife bought Wintris in 2007.
He did not declare an interest in Wintris when entering parliament in 2009.
Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson sold his 50% of Wintris to his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, for $1, eight months later.
The prime minister says no rules were broken and his wife did not benefit financially.
The offshore company was used to invest millions of dollars of inherited money, according to a document signed by Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir in 2015.
The leaked documents, published on April 3, show that Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson was granted a general power of attorney over Wintris – he could manage the company “without any limitation”.
His wife had a similar power of attorney.
Court records show that Wintris had significant investments in the bonds of three major Icelandic banks that collapsed during the financial crisis which began in 2008.
As prime minister, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson has been involved in negotiations about the banks which could affect the value of the bonds held by Wintris.
Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson kept his wife’s interest in the outcome a secret.
A spokesman for the prime minister said on April 4 that Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir had always declared the assets to the tax authorities and that, under parliamentary rules, Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson did not have to declare an interest in Wintris.