The Slatest

Panama Papers Claim First Victim as Iceland’s Prime Minister Resigns

Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson in Malta on Nov. 11, 2015.


Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson has resigned in the wake of revelations detailed in the Panama Papers that his wife owns a British Virgin Islands company that holds millions of dollars of claims against three failed Icelandic banks—claims that Gunnlaugsson’s government is involved in resolving. From the Financial Times:

In a day of high drama in Reykjavik, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson first tried to hang on to his office by seeking the dissolution of parliament.

But after Iceland’s president refused to grant the request, Mr Gunnlaugsson decided to step down as prime minister but carry on as the head of his Progressive party. Sigurdur Ingi Johansson, the current minister of fisheries and agriculture, will become prime minister.

Gunnlaugsson’s conflict of interest became public last month and was further documented by the German publication Süddeutche Zeitung in its coverage of the Panama Papers, an archive of documents belonging to a Panama-based international law firm called Mossack Fonseca that was initially obtained by Süddeutche Zeitung and is now being investigated jointly by 107 news organizations. Mossack Fonseca does extensive business involving international financial transactions.

Gunnlaugsson has said previously that he has done nothing wrong or illegal, although it appears that he violated Icelandic law by failing to disclose his family’s holding.