Prime Minister of Iceland forced out over Panama Papers connection

Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson has decided to resign only one day after protests began outside of his office in Reykjavik. Thousands of protestors gathered after Süddeutsche Zeitung released an exposé that implicated Gunnlaugsson in shady financial dealings.

According to their report, Gunnlaugsson “held bonds worth millions at three bankrupt banks” at the center of a great political reform movement prompted by the global financial crisis of 2008. Gunnlaugsson was on “both sides of the bargaining table” in a negotiation that ultimately diverted $2 billion dollars from the state to creditors.

One of those creditor corporations was Wintris, Inc, which was founded by Gunnlaugsson with the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

When Gunnlaugsson was elected to parliament, he neglected to disclose his shares in the corporation and shortly after he sold his shares (worth billions) to his wife for $1 US.

In a now famous video shot in March, a Swedish journalist confronted the Prime Minister about his shell company. The question prompted Gunnlaugsson to walk out of the interview and it’s been all down hill since.

Thousands of protestors packed the square outside his office and coated the windows with thrown yogurt. According to The Pirate Times, a publication of the Pirate Party of Iceland, 7 percent of the population of the Iceland turned out to make its voice heard. Less than 24 hours later the prime minister has asked the President of Iceland to dissolve Parliament and to make way for early elections.

As of noon, the President has declined the Prime Minister’s request for new elections before speaking with ruling parties.

Other heads of state implicated include Petro Poreshenko of Ukraine, David Cameron of the UK through his father, and Xi Xing Ping of China.

Photo: Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. AP



Patrick J. Foote
Patrick J. Foote

Patrick Foote writes occasionally for People's World. At the University of Central Florida, he worked with the Student Labor Action Project organizing around the intersection of student and worker issues. He would go on to work in the labor movement in such organizations as Central Florida Jobs with Justice, AFSCME Council 79, and OUR Walmart.