The ruling coalition of Iceland announced today that Prime Mininster Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson resigned from office, two days after his ownership of an offshore company holding bonds from failed Icelandic banks was revealed.
A leak of the records of Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca that Fusion helped report on showed Gunnlaugsson bought a shell corporation called Wintris. While there is nothing to suggest any of this is illegal or improper, it does mean that Gunnlaugsson was a creditor in the bankruptcies of three Icelandic banks during the country’s 2008 financial crisis.
Under Gunnlaugsson , the Icelandic government negotiated a deal with creditors, but Gunnlaugsson never disclosed his interest, and sold the company to his wife for $1 shortly before being elected to Parliament.
Gunnlaugsson previously had stated there was nothing illegal about the company, and that he would not resign. He also attempted to dissolve parliament and call for early elections, but the request was denied by the country’s president.
An interview with the prime minister by Swedish television comany SVT and Reykjavik Media ended with Gunnlaugsson walking out when asked about Wintris.
That was before Iceland’s citizens had a chance to weigh in. Thousands attended protests outside the country’s parliament in Reykjavik on Monday calling for Gunnlaugsson’s resignation (and in one case, expressing their anger with Icelandic yogurt).
Gunnlaugsson is the first world leader to resign whose name is mentioned in the Mossack Fonseca leak. He was one of 12 current or former heads of state exposed.