- Screenshot/The Guardian
The prime minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíd Gunnlaugsson, walked out of an interview with the Swedish television company SVT in March, after he was asked about his and his wife’s relationship to the offshore company Wintris.
Gunnlaugsson accused the SVT journalists of asking “totally inappropriate” questions.
Gunnlaugsson was one of the 140 politicians, public officials, and athletes around the world whose offshore holdings were revealed by a massive leak of the internal database of global law firm Mossack Fonseca.
When asked about Wintris, Gunnlaugsson stuttered through a response before getting up and leaving the interview.
“You are asking me nonsense. You trick me into an interview under false pretenses,” Gunnlaugsson can be heard saying in the video.
The “Panama Papers” leaks amount to 3 terabytes of data, including corporate records, financial filings, and emails.
While anonymous company structures hidden in offshore holdings are not illegal, the leaksreveal the extent to which many high-level political figures have relied on shell companies to conceal their wealth, launder money, or evade taxes.
The Mossack Fonseca data shows that Gunnlaugsson and his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir, purchased the offshore company Wintris in 2007 to invest millions from the sale of Palsdottir’s family business, according to The Guardian. When he entered Iceland’s parliament in 2009, he did not declare his 50% stake in the company. Eight months later, Gunnlaugsson sold his share to his wife for $1.
According to the BBC, court records show that Wintris was invested in the bonds of three major Icelandic banks that collapsed during the financial crisis, raising calls of a conflict of interest.
Gunnlaugsson became prime minister of Iceland in 2013. He was involved with negotiations about the banks that could have affected the Wintris’ bond investments.
The full interview is available here. Here’s a clip from the interview: