#PanamaPapers first casualty: Iceland PM Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson resigns

By @chelean on
Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson attends a news conference in Stockholm, Sweden, in this June 19, 2013 file photo.
Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson attends a news conference in Stockholm, Sweden, in this June 19, 2013 file photo. Reuters/Bertil Enevag Ericson/Scanpix/Files

Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson resigned from his post on Tuesday following the implication of his name in the leaked Mossack Fonseca documents. The Progressive Party chairman is the first casualty of the Panama Papers scandal.

Gunnlaugsson is one of the dozens of people named in the documents from the Panamanian law firm, which show he and his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir , owned an offshore company that was a creditor to failed Icelandic banks. In an interview about his finances several days before, the prime minister walked out when grilled about his finances.

Hours after the papers were published, thousands of protesters demanded for Gunnlaugsson’s resignation outside the parliament. He asked President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson for a snap election before handing his notice, but this was denied.

Gunnlaugsson won the election in May 2013. Although he has apologised for his behaviour in a TV interview, which he walked out of, he initially contended he would not resign from his post.

According to the leaked Panama Papers documents, his wife bought Wintris, a British Virgin Islands company, in 2007 from a Panamanian company using a Luxembourgian bank. The PM owns 50 percent of the company’s share, which he did not disclose to the public upon entering the parliament in 2009. He then sold his share to his wife for US$1 (AU$1.32) eight months later.

His government platform included promises to play tough on creditors, with his government negotiating an agreement with them in 2015. When the Mossack Fonseca documents were leaked, it was learnt that his family had a personal stake in the negotiation.

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Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing pressure to release his family’s tax details. The Panama Papers scandal has also implicated his late father, stockbroker Ian Cameron, who apparently avoided taxes in the UK for 30 years by basing his investment fund in the Bahamas.

Cameron, who aimed to tackle tax evasion and avoidance in the country, insisted that he himself does not own shares, offshore trusts or funds.