Thousands Demand Iceland PM Quit Over Panama Papers

But Gunnlaugsson refuses to consider it
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 5, 2016 7:01 AM CDT
Thousands Demand Iceland PM Quit Over Panama Papers
People gather to demonstrate against Iceland's prime minister in Reykjavik.   (AP Photo/Brynjar Gunnarsson)

If the Panama Papers leak is going to bring down a big name, it's looking more and more like it will be Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson. About 10,000 protesters gathered outside Parliament in Reykjavik on Monday evening, and opposition parties are pushing for a no-confidence vote, reports the Guardian. Gunnlaugsson insists he won't resign in the wake of reports that he and his wife set up a secretive offshore company based in the Virgin Islands in which to invest money. That company, Wintris, lost millions after the 2008 financial crash, and the company wants to recoup some of that from the government. As the New York Times reports, Gunnlaugsson is accused of a conflict of interest because, as prime minister in 2013, he helped negotiate on behalf of those looking to reclaim money from collapsed banks.

"He's just lost all credibility," a financial services consultant tells the Guardian. "Our prime minister, hiding assets in offshore accounts. … After all this country has been through, how can he possibly pretend to lead Iceland's resurrection from the financial crisis?" Gunnlaugsson sold his half of the company to his wife for a token $1 in 2009, just before a rule took effect that would have required him, as a member of Parliament, to declare his ownership. He insists everything has been aboveboard. "I have not considered quitting because of this matter nor am I going to quit because of this matter," he told Icelandic television Channel 2, per Australia's ABC. For an explainer on the overall scandal, Vox points to this graphic and its clever use of a piggy bank. (More Panama Papers stories.)

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