Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson Resigns in the Wake of “Panama Papers” Scandal

Brynjar Gunnasrson/AP

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson announced his resignation on Tuesday amid mounting public anger over evidence that he and his wife owned a secretive offshore company called Wintris that managed millions of dollars of investments in three Icelandic banks that collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis.

Calls to step down were sparked by this weekend’s so-called “Panama Papers” leak, a massive trove of documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonesca that exposed a number of international leaders and their closest confidantes as participating in complex offshore banking arrangements. High-profile leaders linked to the leak include Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

But Gunnlaugsson is the first leader ousted in the international fallout. The public outcry in Iceland is particularly intense due to lasting memories of the 2008 financial crisis, which paralyzed the country’s economy, and sent shock waves around the world. And as our own Kevin Drum noted, Iceland was “ground zero for the European banking crisis.”

Gunnlaugsson had initially insisted on staying in office. When questioned about his ties to Wintris on Monday, the visibly shaken prime minister was unable to properly respond and ended the interview. “You are asking me nonsense,” he is heard telling the reporters conducting the interview.

In the days following the leak, mass demonstrations calling for Gunnlaugsson to step down were held outside Parliament. Some people were seen hurling yogurt at the building in protest:

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily bluster—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate