Icelandic PM refuses to resign amid Panama Papers leak

AFP , Monday 4 Apr 2016

Iceland's prime minister refused Monday to resign despite calls to do so after leaked "Panama Papers" tax documents showed he and his wife used an offshore firm to allegedly hide million-dollar investments.

"I have not considered quitting because of this matter nor am I going to quit because of this matter," Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson told Icelandic television Channel 2.

According to the leaked documents, Gunnlaugsson and his wife Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir purchased the offshore company Wintris Inc. in the British Virgin Islands in December 2007.

He transferred his 50-percent stake to her in 2009 for the symbolic sum of one dollar.

He has insisted he never hid any money abroad, and says his wife, who inherited a fortune from her father, has paid all her taxes in Iceland.

"She has neither utilised tax havens nor can you say that her company is an offshore company in the sense that it pays taxes abroad rather than in Iceland," Gunnlaugsson said on his website.

Whether or not Gunnlaugsson is guilty of tax evasion remains to be proven, but his opponents have insisted he step down regardless.

"The prime minister should immediately resign," former Social Democratic prime minister Johanna Sigurdardottir said in a message posted on Facebook.

More than 24,000 Icelanders have also signed a petition demanding his resignation, while the opposition has said it will seek a vote of no confidence in parliament, likely to be held this week.

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