back to article Iceland prime minister falls on sword over Panama Papers email leak

Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson has resigned over documents in the so-called Panama Papers, which revealed details of his family's tax arrangements. Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson, the deputy chair of the Prime minister's Progressive Party, stated that Gunnlaugsson had resigned on Tuesday on Iceland's national public …

  1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
    Coat

    Falling on Sword

    In the case of politicians and their tax affairs, "They don't like it up 'em!", as Lance Corporal Jones would have said

  2. Shadow Systems Silver badge

    A bunch of politicians lied?

    Well I'm shocked, SHOCKED that such a thing could ever happen in this day & age of ethical, moral, legal, & socially upstanding folks in power.

    *Head explodes from the sarcasm*

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: A bunch of politicians lied?

      I'm shocked too... a politician that resigns, and it's a PM too.

      Once again Iceland shows the way... maybe Cameron could follow his example.

      1. John G Imrie

        Re: A bunch of politicians lied?

        I'm starting to like Iceland, they jailed their bankers and now their PM has resigned. Then again, around 4.5% of the countries population turned up to protest outside their parliament.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A bunch of politicians lied?

          Having recently been chatting to an Icelander over a beer, she was quite annoyed by the world's view that "they jailed their bankers," saying that it's far from the truth. She talked about 'luxury' prisons, the bankers keeping all of their ill-gotten gains, and the fact that, upon release, many of the 'disgraced' bankers have walked into highly-paid jobs in the government and effectively carried on as normal, but screwing over the general populous, not just the customers of their particular bank.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A bunch of politicians lied?

          like them more if they paid back the £BN's to our councils and various other bodies who lost money in Icelandic banks

          1. Dan 55 Silver badge

            Re: A bunch of politicians lied?

            They've been paid back.

            What's rather more annoying is that Prudence used anti-terrorism legislation to seize assets in the first place.

  3. DougS Silver badge

    Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

    I was surprised that there were no US politicians in the list, but I guess if we've only seen 1/6th of it so far that makes sense. Maybe whoever is deciding the order of release has wants to hold up the US release until after the primaries are done so to maximize the fallout.

    Interestingly I think the two front runners, Trump and Clinton, are unlikely to be involved. Trump, because most of his holdings are real estate and with his ego he wants everyone to think he is richer than he really is, rather than trying to hide his wealth. Clinton, because her and her ex-President husband derive almost all of their income from writing books and making speeches, and that income is already well reported since they've been covered under disclosure arrangements for most of the past 25 years. Cruz's wife works for Goldman Sachs - if there was anyone who was going to be connected to this sort of scheme you'd think it would be someone working for that firm.

    But it would likely hit many current and former Cabinet officials, along with plenty of Senate and House members. I'm sure any of those who have dealings with that Panamanian firm are readying their talking points, hoping to do a better job of defending themselves than the tongue tied Icelandic PM!

    1. SteveK

      Re: Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

      I was surprised that there were no US politicians in the list, but I guess if we've only seen 1/6th of it so far that makes sense. Maybe whoever is deciding the order of release has wants to hold up the US release until after the primaries are done so to maximize the fallout.

      I've read two opposing views on the lack of prominent US politicians/wealthy donors (and I also wondered if the elections were involved) - the first a blog post saying that the group controlling the release of the data was owned and run by US politicians and billionaires and, surprise surprise, none of their own sort have been revealed.

      The second (NY Times I think it was) explaining it by saying it's so easy to create shell companies in the US that US citizens don't need to bother with offshoring...

      Not sure which of those views is worse than the other!

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

        Not sure which of those views is worse than the other!

        Clearly the second case would mean that Big State is not prying open every arse and fridge to extract monies for nepotistic boondoggles and actually respects privacy and sound investments, so I don't see how that can, in any way or shape, be called bad.

        Never trust the taxman. Remember that money has to be debased to even pay for the stuff that we pretend to be able to afford (which unsurprisingly includes wars on the other side of the world).

        Also, anyone who wants to read up on Icelandic Banking Crisis could do worse than read Deep Freeze. We are in for more of such "unforeseen" (in actuality, very much foreseen) crises.

        1. Stork Silver badge

          Re: Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

          As it has been hinted earlier, Americans do not have to go off-shore. Delaware will do nicely, thank you very much.

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

            Delaware does very nicely as does the Caymans. A quick look at Apple and other corporates makes this point.

            And it might very well be that the small fish are being exposed first. Why waste all your press and readership by exposing the big guys first?

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

              @"Delaware does very nicely as does the Caymans."

              That won't work. If Delaware and Caymans is not good enough for France, yet good enough for USA, how come Americans working in France are not listed, or American corps that span USA+France as their primary bases?

              It's filtered of Americans and released just prior to a US election.

              I think if Putin was the primary target then the leaks would focus on Putin rather than swamp his needle in this sea of hay. The message goes from "Putin is corrupt" to "Putin is corrupt like a lot of others around the world", which weakens the message.

              If someone releases a haystack and its carefully filtered of American needles, then the story here is the huge size of this filtered haystack. i.e. "Fear our mighty haystack surveillance machine".

              Look at the US Presidential candidates, and tell me among the many associates and donors and backers, there isn't one with a Panama connection? It's ridiculously implausible! So when that person is elected, that surveillance will be hanging over them, influencing their decisions.

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

                If this is what you maintain then Trump's name would be all over it, but it isn't.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

            "Delaware will do nicely"

            Last time I needed to set up a shell company, Delaware was promoted to me as a good choice even though I'm not an American.

            In the end Ireland suited my needs better.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There is no honor among theives

        Third option, this is NSA grabbed data, with a legal duty to filter out US citizens. Hence it has no US citizens listed.

        @ " the first a blog post saying that the group controlling the release of the data was owned and run by US politicians and billionaires"

        There's no honor among thieves, if their competitors is on the list, they'd leave him there regardless that he's American. So I think that theory makes no sense.

        @ " it's so easy to create shell companies in the US"

        Yet every major corp offshores their shell corporations to avoid paying US taxes? That makes no sense either.

        No, this is an NSA leak, and its clearly a threat to drive an agenda. All of those American politicians with Panama links will be shitting themselves knowing that the NSA has their data. So come election time, they'll be more compliant to mass surveillance by NSA. And if they don't, well suddenly some (their) names start appearing in the later leaks.

        Icelands PM resigns, and you can bet the next one will be NSA approved. And around the world politicians who dodge the bullet will fall into line.

        1. DougS Silver badge

          NSA grabbed data

          I wasn't aware the NSA had an agenda to topple Iceland's PM. And why should the NSA filter it of US connections, when they could use it to embarrass those who are against their agenda? Like, say, Tim Cook. Heck, if he doesn't have offshore accounts just make up some to include in the dump - who is going to believe the one guy who claims he was framed in the midst of a ton of data that proves to be true?

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

        "it's so easy to create shell companies in the US that US citizens don't need to bother with offshoring..."

        The US IRS goes extremely heavy when it suspects offshore tax shelters. Anything panama-related has been on their "extreme prejudice" list for a long time.

        The result is that any US connections tend to be be corporate or extremely well-buried.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

      Dream on.

      There will be no USA politicians in this dump as it is an engineered dump. The target was cracked in order to fish out compromat against Putin in the run-up to the Russian election. It was not even a clean job. It was so noisy that the Russians got wiff of it two weeks ago - it has been a fixture of their news that a compromat is coming and it is an engineered job.

      The sad part is that, even with 3 letter agency involvment to get the compromat and feed it to the news sources, it is still quite weak. Any evidence against Putin and co is still circumstantial and at one hand distance. Close, but no direct evidence.

      The Icelander, the Cameron family and key Tory donors, etc - that is all collateral damage as far as whoever engineered the dump was concerned. It was left there for "authenticity". Overall, unfortunately, itwas not quite on target. I suggest they try better next time. Russian media pretty much shrugged it off exactly for this reason - the lack of USA politicos points to a filtered dump and the origin of the dump. So if they want to hit the "polite guy" they should do a better job next time. And leave the USA politicos in the dump.

      1. Kurt Meyer

        Re: Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

        @AC

        "Russian media pretty much shrugged it off exactly for this reason"

        My God, that's a relief. I sleep soundly at night knowing that "Truth" and "News" are available thanks to the Russian media.

        1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

          Pravda & Izvestia

          "My God, that's a relief. I sleep soundly at night knowing that "Truth" and "News" are available thanks to the Russian media."

          Touché. As people were saying in distant 70's: there's no truth in "Truth" and no news in "News".

          The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    3. Peter X

      Re: Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

      Totally guessing, but maybe Mossack Fonseca is just one of a number of companies operating in this [ahem] area of expertise [/ahem]. I'm going to guess there's a *lot* of people suddenly needing to double check their own arrangements, maybe proxy through more than one of such companies, and make sure things are really really air-tight.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

        "maybe Mossack Fonseca is just one of a number of companies operating in this [ahem] area of expertise [/ahem]."

        And maybe (hopefully) more than one company has had its files riffled through. It would be interesting if there was a second set of dumps 12 months later form somewhere else containing paniced emails related to this dump and exposure of malfeasance in public office.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Didn't realize there were more data dumps to come

      Hi might have to do with the fact the organisation is based in Washington DC, and they would have their arsed sued off if they reveal any gringo name.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Russian conspiracy theory

        It isn't as though there haven't been stories about Putin's favored people dropping nine digit sums to buy tony properties in London, and other stories showing how unaccountably wealthy many of them have become, so the idea that this whole thing is a scheme against Putin is laughable. If you wanted to hit him you'd need a smoking gun that isn't the same gun that has been smoking since the turn of the century. It is ho hum news in Russia because probably every citizen says "tell me something I don't know" when Putin's connection to corruption is reported.

  4. PaulAb

    Orwellian

    Probably suffering from the 'Some pigs more equal than others' syndrome.His nickname at home is probably Napolean.

  5. EveryTime

    This is shaping up to be a Wikileaks, or even Snowden-level, revelation.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      "This is shaping up to be a Wikileaks, or even Snowden-level, revelation."

      In raw data it's already 10 times larger than Wikileaks - and the interesting revelation that there are scanned paper docs dating back more than 40 years will have a lot of people looking over their shoulders.

      As with Wikileaks, the releases are being curated and dripfed to keep up interest. I'm pretty sure there will be a bunch of attacks aimed at grabbing and releasing the enture dataset.

  6. OzBob

    Wikileaks / Snowden style revelation?

    More like the Parliamentary expenses scandal, where the leaker got away scot free rather than becoming a "celebrity" and / or a "target".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Never been accused or charged

    Mossack Fonseca says it has "operated beyond reproach for 40 years and never been accused or charged with criminal wrong-doing."

    Yes, of course you've never been accused or charged, because you kept all the tax dodging secret and lied.

    They were told that money from the Brinks Mat gold bullion heist in London was being laundered, yet still chose to carry on dealing with the perpetrators and hide the purchase of at least one multi-million pound house in London from the UK police. Even our Prime Minister's father was involved in some very shady, if not illegal, dealings, flying out of the country to attend board meetings just to say the company he set up wasn't being administered from the UK. If that's not dodging tax, what is?

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: Never been accused or charged

      "... never been accused or charged with criminal wrong-doing."

      IIRC the very phrase used in Godfather 2 by Michael Corleone during the senate hearings.

    2. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      Re: Never been accused or charged

      " wasn't being administered from the UK."

      I've always wondered about things like that. If you have a dumb terminal in 'country A' connected to system in 'country B' and using the session to connect to a computer in 'country C'. Which country's laws apply in this case? No actual processing is happening in Country A, the user isn't located in Country B, and only resources are being accessed in Country C.

      I've wondered this because I work on encryption libraries and the US has some pretty backwards laws concerning 'exporting' encryption, so If I were to be sitting in the US but remoted into a machine in Canada and sending my code changes to Sweden, am I breaking the law?

      As an aside I wonder who's laws apply to the BBS-like systems hosted on the Amateur Radio Satellites orbiting the planet...

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Never been accused or charged

      "Yes, of course you've never been accused or charged, because you kept all the tax dodging secret and lied."

      More to the point: What they've been doing isn't illegal in Panama. The legality in other countries is immaterial.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Never been accused or charged

        If the assets in Panama weren't declared in the country where they are tax resident and in any declaration of interests for Parliament or a company then it is material.

  8. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "widespread tax avoidance by senior political figures around the world"

    Are we really supposed to be surprised ?

    These are people who have financial counsel at their beck and call. And we can all guess that the money makers are not going to miss a chance at converting a new recruit.

    The current French President excepted, of course. Nobody in the know would trust him with that kind of secret.

  9. Graham Marsden
    Devil

    Fallen on his sword...

    ... but how many of the people named are actually going to face any sort of criminal charges?

    They will no doubt say "Well, it was legal under the tax laws of my country" without saying "of course those laws were written and/or voted in by *other* people on the list..."

    One law for us, another one for them.

    1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      Re: Fallen on his sword...

      Given the small size of Iceland's population, I'd think that his social life is pretty much over. With only 350,000 people, its likely that everyone knows the guy, or at least has a friend that knows them.

    2. e^iπ+1=0

      Re: Fallen on his sword...

      "Well, it was legal under the tax laws of my country"

      Works for Starbucks et al.

  10. Snafu1

    I'm /really/ looking forward to Wednesday week when the next [i]Private Eye[/i] edition turns up.. then I might see how much they'd predicted over the last few months comes out in the leak.. :)

  11. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Iceland's Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson has resigned over Panama Papers

    One down.

    How many more to go?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    shock news

    Apparently, there might be some dodgy goings-on at FIFA? Who would have thought?

    "New Fifa president Gianni Infantino signed off on a contract with two businessmen who have since been accused of bribery, leaked documents reveal" [BBC]

  13. Tromos

    Some homework for those named in the leak.

    Explain in no more than two hundred words: "Why I chose a law firm based in Panama rather than a more local one."

    1. SkippyBing Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Some homework for those named in the leak.

      I was told we need to export more?

      Seems like a reasonable reason...

  14. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    2.6 TB of data

    That'd be three PDF files...

    ...and a 2.59999 TB PowerPoint file from the 'brain trust' in somebody's corporate Business Development office. They'll have accidentally pasted in the entire Japanese language WWW as a tiny 1 sq cm 'Rising Sun' icon at the bottom of Slide 4, hidden beneath six other layers.

    "My presentation wouldn't email, so I uploaded it to an open file server in Panama."

  15. Camilla Smythe

    Good to see the picture of Dave

    Swapping tongues with his father.

    "Look you old bastard. Give me the freaking passwords!!!"

    "Sorry son. I've gone senile. Are you going to be at the wedding?"

  16. Frenchie Lad

    Were all Equal but some are more Equal than others especially if you're Rich

    Galling to think that there different rules for different people. I bet the Icelandic example is not going to followed anywhere.

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