Reykjavik | Iceland’s prime minister resigned yesterday, becoming the first political victim of a mushrooming worldwide scandal over hidden offshore financial dealings exposed in the so-called Panama Papers.
Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was the biggest casualty of a worldwide media probe into 11.5 million leaked documents that purportedly reveal the offshore financial activities of 140 political figures, including 12 current or former heads of state.
The prime minister told his party’s parliamentary group meeting that he would step down as prime minister and I will take over, the Progressive Party’s deputy leader Sigurdur Ingi Johannsson told a live broadcast.
Iceland’s leader had been under immense pressure after the papers, leaked from a Panamanian law firm, appeared to show that he and his wife Anna Sigurlaug Palsdottir owned an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands and placed millions of dollars there.
Though the prime minister denied ever hiding money abroad, pressure on his government had mounted, with egg-throwing protesters gathering in the streets yesterday and fresh demonstrations planned today.
The vast stash of records from Panamanian legal firm Mossack Fonseca was obtained from an anonymous source by German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung and shared with more than 100 media groups by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). The network of journalists published their first findings Sunday after a year-long probe.