Icelanders protest against PM’s tax haven allegation

Reykjavik, April 5 (IANS) Thousands of Icelanders gathered in front of parliament to express their anger against the government following the release of the Panama Papers, which suggest Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson and two other cabinet members have ties to offshore companies.

The riot gear equipped police used iron fences to separate protester and the parliament building. After the speeches, the protesters chanted, banged drums and threw bananas, toilet paper and yogurt towards the parliament building, demanding the government’s dismissal, Xinhua reported.

“The government should respect the basic rules of democracy and stand down at once. We therefore demand elections now!” said a demand on Facebook.

The documents, leaked from a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca, reveal Gunnlaugsson co-owned a company called Wintris Inc, set up in 2007 on the Caribbean island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands, to hold investments with his wife Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir.

He sold his entire shares to Palsdottir for one dollar in late 2009. But he failed to declare his interest in the company after he entered Iceland’s parliament in 2009.

As the Wintris claimed millions dollars in assets in three bankrupted Icelandic banks after the financial crisis in 2008, Gunnlaugsson is faced with allegations from opponents that he has hidden a major financial conflict of interest from voters ever since he was elected a parliament member seven years ago.

The prime minister’s office said in a statement that his holding of Wintris shares was an error. He and his wife corrected it after they got married in 2009.

However, in an interview with the media on Monday, Gunnlaugsson said he was not going to resign and the current government performs well.

The documents also suggest both the minister of finance and economic affairs Bjarni Benediktsson and the interior minister Olof Nordal were in connection with offshore companies.

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