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Icelandic Prime Minister Abruptly Ends Interview After Tax Scandal Question

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 4/04/2016 Alana Horowitz Satlin
ICELAND © Iceland ICELAND

Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson abruptly ended a recent television interview after he was asked about his relationship with an offshore company.

Leaked documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, claim that Wintris Inc., a company that Gunnlaugsson owned but later sold to his wife, had a financial stake in three failed Icelandic banks. Gunnlaugsson didn't disclose the shares when he was elected to Iceland's Parliament in 2009, a potential ethics violation.

The revelations from Mossack Fonseca -- part of the so-called Panama Papers, a massive data leak that ICIJ made public on Sunday -- may prove troublesome for Gunnlaugsson, because his apparent involvement with the three banks could be seen as a conflict of interest.

The Swedish television company SVT asked Gunnlaugsson about Wintris in an interview conducted last month and brought to light Sunday. The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung said that it worked with SVT on the interview questions.

"I am starting to feel a bit strange about these questions because it's like you're accusing me of something," Gunnlaugsson says in the interview. "You're indicating that I haven't paid taxes on it."

"No, I'm just asking you questions," the reporter says.

Pressed on the matter, Gunnlaugsson stands up and begins to walk out of the room.

"You're asking me about things I haven't acquainted myself with. You trick me into an interview," he says. "You are asking me nonsense. You trick me into an interview under false pretenses."

Gunnlaugsson and his wife, Anna Sigurlaug Pálsdóttir, later said that he'd been mistakenly listed as a shareholder in Wintris and that it was really her company all along.

Despite growing protests and demands for a no-confidence vote, the Icelandic leader said on Monday that he wouldn't resign.

The Panama Papers, which comprise more than 11 million records, contain potentially damning information about dozens of politicians and other public figures. Read more about the investigation here.

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