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Thousands Demand Iceland PM Resign
International

Thousands Demand Iceland PM Resign

Iceland’s prime minister has rebuffed calls to resign following allegations he hid million dollar investments overseas. The revelations are part of the “Panama Papers” leaks published by a consortium of media.
Crowds poured into the square outside parliament in Reykjavik late Monday calling for Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson to step down after leaked financial records showed he and his wife bought a company in the British Virgin Islands in 2007, AP reported.
News reports have alleged that Gunnlaugsson and his wife set up a shell company with the help of a Panamanian law firm at the center of a massive tax evasion leak. The reports have prompted calls for a no-confidence vote in parliament against him.
But the 41-year-old leader remained defiant on Monday telling parliament: “I have not considered quitting because of this matter nor am I going to quit because of this matter.”
The issue is sensitive in Iceland, a country marked by the excesses of the last decade when senior bankers used shell companies in tax havens to conceal their dealings in risky financial products.
Police said Monday’s crowds outnumbered the thousands who in 2009 brought down the rightwing government over its responsibility in Iceland’s 2008 banking collapse.
Elected prime minister in 2013, Gunnlaugsson had campaigned as a break from the political old guard, which was accused of having turned a blind eye to the banks’ reckless investments.
The revelations contained in the leaks concern the company Wintris Inc, allegedly established in 2007 along with his wife Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir.
He allegedly sold his half of the company to Palsdottir for a token $1 on December 31, 2009, the day before a new Icelandic law took effect that would have required him to declare the ownership of Wintris as a conflict of interest.
Wintris lost money as a result of the 2008 financial crash that crippled Iceland and is now claiming a total of 515 million Icelandic kronur ($4.2 million) from the three failed Icelandic banks: Landsbanki, Glitnir and Kaupthing.
Gunnlaugsson has been accused by opposition leaders of a serious conflict of interest because as prime minister he was involved in reaching a deal for the banks’ claimants.

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