Iceland’s First Lady linked to offshore accounts: reports


REYKJAVIK: Iceland’s First Lady Dorrit Moussaieff has reportedly been named among clients of British bank HSBC with holdings in tax havens, the media outlets behind the Panama Papers and other leaks revealed Tuesday.

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) found Moussaieff’s name in the “Swiss Leaks” list of more than 100,000 HSBC clients with offshore holdings, Britain’s The Guardian newspaper, which is part of the consortium, reported.

The Swiss Leaks documents were revealed in 2015 — about a year before the Panama Papers trove of leaked documents showing the vast extent of global tax evasion. Moussaieff’s presence on the list had not been previously reported.

The British-Israeli wife of President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson is an heiress of the Moussaieff jewellery dynasty.

When the media first revealed on April 25 that her family had holdings in the British Virgin Islands, the office of the Icelandic president said the first lady was unaware of any such assets.

But according to The Guardian, “leaked bank files show Iceland’s first lady listed as one of three Moussaieff family members who jointly owned a company in the British Virgin Islands called Jaywick Properties Inc.”

It was not clear if the files referred to by the British newspaper were leaked in the Panama Papers or in the Swiss Leaks case of HSBC clients.

German daily Suddeutsche Zeitung added it had proof of the “link between the First Lady and two offshore companies as well as five offshore bank accounts.”

According to Reykjavik Media, the Moussaieff family had $80 million deposited with HSBC in 2006-2007.

Dorrit Moussaieff has been married to Grimsson since 2003. He has served five consecutive terms as Icelandic president since 1996, and is seeking a sixth term in June 25 elections.

Asked by CNN on April 22 whether his name or that of anyone in his family would turn up in the leaked Panama Papers of millions of financial records, he replied: “That’s not going to be the case.”

The president’s office has so far not commented on this latest media report.

Some of the  leaked documents in the Panama Papers have rocked Iceland, with about 600 Icelanders emerging as having holdings in tax havens, in a country of just 320,000 people.

And there has been one political casualty. Former prime minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was pressured to resign on April 5, following mass protests over a secret offshore account worth millions of dollars. -AFP