Angry Protests By Icelanders Have Kicked Their PM Out Of Duty After #PanamaPapers Leak

The international media reported that Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson has resigned following massive protests in the wake of the Panama Papers investigation.

  • Cover image via SAYS
  • Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson has been under intense pressure to step down ever since the Panama Papers issue broke out

      Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson stepped down on Tuesday, 5 April. Image via

      Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson stepped down on Tuesday, 5 April.

    • The prime minister of Iceland has been accused of hiding millions of dollars of investments in his country's banks behind a secretive offshore company.

      Leaked documents show that Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson and his wife bought offshore company Wintris in 2007.

      The offshore company was used to invest millions of dollars of inherited money, according to a document signed by Mr Gunnlaugsson's wife Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir in 2015.
  • Thousands of Icelanders have been protesting in the streets to demonstrate against his administration, for allegedly using a shell company to shelter large sums while the country's economy was suffering a major crisis

      People gathered during a protest on Austurvollur Square in front of the Icelandic Parliament in Reykjavic, Iceland, on 4 April.

    • Thousands turned out Monday, 4 April, to protest Iceland's prime minister outside the parliament in Reykjavik, a day after the release of the massive Panama Papers leak.

      Police estimated the crowd at 8,000 people, which duty officer Arnar Runar Marteinsson said is the largest protest he had ever seen in Reykjavik, the Associated Press reported.

      National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden tweeted Monday afternoon about the Iceland protest, questioning if it was the "largest protest by percentage of population in history." The nation has a population of nearly 330,000.
  • David Gunnlaugsson is the first major figure to resign from his post as a Prime Minister, following the Panama Papers exposé

    • After widespread calls for his resignation, Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson stepped down Tuesday, 5 April -- an apparent casualty of the Panama Papers leaks.

      Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, the deputy chair of Gunnlaugsson's Progressive Party, announced the resignation on national public broadcaster RUV.

      He said Gunnlaugsson will remain head of the Progressive Party -- which might not go down well with some Icelanders who want nothing to do with him.
  • Meanwhile, major sites like Al Jazeera and CNN have reported that Iceland's Agriculture Minister, Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson has been appointed to replace the PM for an interim period

      Iceland Agriculture Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson. Image via BBL

      Iceland Agriculture Minister Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson.

  • However, the Prime Minister's office in Iceland has issued a press statement to clarify that the PM has not resigned, but instead has stepped aside for the Progressive Party Vice-Chairman to take over "for an unspecified amount of time"

      A screencap of Richard Milne's tweet about the full text of press release from Ithe Prime Minister's office in Iceland.

    • In a press release sent to international media outlets, the spokesman of Iceland’s Prime Minister claims the PM did NOT resign yesterday.

      Instead the Prime Minister only asked the Party’s vice chairman to “take over the office of Prime Minister for an unspecified amount of time.”

      Political observers have described this latest course of events as “farcical” and a game of semantics.

      Richard Milne, Financial Times' Nordic correspondent was first to publish the full text of the press release.
  • The Guardian reported that many Icelanders were happy to hear that the PM has "resigned" but remained cynical as the same government is still in charge

      One of the protester carrying a sign that reads, "Where is our new constitution?", outside the parliament in Reykjavik, Iceland on 4 April, 2016.

    • “Of course we’re happy the prime minister has stepped down. But we are not satisfied with who is taking over from him, and with the fact that the government itself is still there,” said Steingrimur Oli Einarsson, a fish oil trader, one of a few hundred to brave a freezing northeasterly wind on parliament square in downtown Reykjavik.

      Outside parliament, Sigrin Eiroksdottir, a pre-school teacher, said the occasion “doesn’t really feel like any kind of victory. There is so much still to put right in this country in terms of ethics, of how the world looks at us.”

      Lara Gardarsdottir, an illustrator, said: “It’s good news he’s resigned, yes. But we need far more drastic change. We’re left with the same gang in charge. And the guy who’s replacing the prime minister, a couple of days ago he was saying he saw nothing wrong in what he’d done.”
  • Aside from Gunnlaugsson, documents held by the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca, revealed dozens of prominent public figures' names that are allegedly linked to secretive shell companies and offshore tax shelters

      Some of the world leader's involved in the the Panama Papers leak. Image via ICIJ

      Some of the world leader's involved in the the Panama Papers leak.

    • The leaked papers cover nearly 215,000 companies and 14,153 clients of the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

      Shared with reporters at 100 news media outlets working in 25 languages, the documents include politicians, celebrities, sports figures and close associates of some of the world’s most powerful people, like President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia and members of China’s ruling Politburo.
  • PM Najib Razak's son Nazifuddin Najib was among the Malaysian entities named in the Panama Papers, but no investigations have been launched on the matter to date

    • According to the documents uncovered in the leak, he had held directorships in two companies based in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), namely Jay Marriot International and PCJ International Venture Limited.

      However, this does not imply any wrongdoing on his part.

      “There are legitimate uses for offshore companies, foundations and trusts. We do not intend to suggest or imply that any persons, companies or other entities included in the ICIJ Power Players interactive application have broken the law or otherwise acted improperly,” said the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), which led the investigation together with Germany-based newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung.
  • Not sure what's going on? Get the answers to all your burning questions about the Panama Papers leak here:

  • Craig John Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, has suggested that there is a possible hidden agenda behind the Panama Papers leak:

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