Iceland PM offers to step down after Panama Papers scandal

CNBC – Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson, Iceland’s prime minister, has become the first casualty of the so-called Panama Papers scandal after he offered to resign Tuesday, his press office told CNBC. His move follows leaked files that showed his wife owned an offshore firm with big claims on the country’s collapsed banks. Earlier, Gunnlaugsson had asked the country’s president to dissolve parliament in the face of a looming no-confidence vote and protests.

On Monday, the opposition filed a motion of no-confidence and thousands of Icelanders gathered in front of parliament, hurling eggs and bananas and demanding the departure of the leader of the centre-right coalition government, in power since 2013.

A government spokesman has said the claims against Iceland’s collapsed banks held by the firm owned by the prime minister’s wife – in which he also temporarily held a stake – totalled more than 500 million Icelandic crowns ($4.1 million).

Iceland’s main commercial banks collapsed as the global financial crisis hit in 2008 and many Icelanders have blamed the North Atlantic island nation’s politicians for not reining in the banks’ debt-fuelled binge and averting a deep recession.

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Jay is Editor In Chief of The Agonist, veteran and technologist.

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