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Icelandic Tycoon Criticizes Former Business Partner

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Icelandic Tycoon Criticizes Former Business Partner

Icelandic tycoon Björgólfur Thor Björgólfsson is critical of his former business partner Ingimar Ingimarsson in an entry on his website because of his recently-published book Sagan sem varð að segja about the fate of the company Baltic Bottling Plant (BBP).

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Björgólfur Thor. Photo by Geir Ólafsson.

In the book Ingimar recounts his side of the story of when the company was established in St. Petersburg in the 1990s, claiming that Björgólfur, or Thor, as he is often called abroad, and his father, Björgólfur Guðmundsson, stole the company from him.

Ingimar maintained his story in an interview on RÚV’s news magazine Kastljós on November 23 where it was stated that he actually won cases against the father and son, yet was unable to reclaim his company. Thor dismisses all of Ingimar’s accusations.

Thor writes that BBP was founded illegally as Ingimar and his business partner at the time avoided the payment of stock. They created a web of trade with their own offshore companies which sucked money out of BBP’s operations, Thor claimed.

After two years of operation Ingimar decided to sell BBP, Thor wrote. The buyers included himself and his father and according to Ingimar, he never agreed to the sale.

The beverage company BBP became the widely successful brewery Bravo which was sold to Heineken for the reputed amount of USD 400 million (at current exchange rates this equates to ISK 48 billion, EUR 297 million) in 2002.

These profits led to a string of investments in the telecom and pharmaceutical markets, primarily in Eastern Europe, and formed the basis for Thor’s business empire.

It also enabled the acquisition by his and his father’s company Samson of a 45 percent share in Landsbanki following the privatization of the Icelandic banks in 2002.

On December 1, Kastljós covered a report by the investigative company KROLL conducted on Thor’s trade in Russia, Bulgaria and elsewhere where it is stated that his wealth grew from hundreds of millions of dollars to USD 3 billion (ISK 356 billion, EUR 2 billion, at current exchange rates) from 2002 to 2006, ruv.is reports.

This can only be explained by two things: massive leverage or that Thor was the front man, or at least the collaborator, of powerful Russian individuals who mixed politics and business and protected him, the report claims.

The KROLL report insinuates that Thor worked with the Danish lawyer Jeffrey Galmond, who is suspected of being the front man for the billionaire Leonid Reiman, former Minister of Information Technologies and Communication of the Russian Federation.

Thor denied these claims, stating in an email to Kastljós that he knows neither of these men and never worked for Reiman or Galmond.

Click here to read other stories on Björgólfur Thor.

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