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Who is the Fake Man?

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Who is the Fake Man?

Secret Solstice

Are these people real or fake? Photo: Páll Stefánsson.

Icelandic media are abuzz today about “the fake foreign man” who was among the biggest debtors of the failed old Icelandic banks before the 2008 crash. The name does not refer to a specific individual; it is actually a collective term for a number of unknown overseas legal entities.

The Kastljós news magazine program on RÚV, still unpicking the aftermath of the Panama Papers leak, reported yesterday that “the fake foreign man” owed the banks hundreds of billions of krónur and “he” owned large shares in many Icelandic businesses, according to the 2010 Alþingi research report into the banking crisis. The term “fake man” refers to overseas companies under unknown ownership.

“The fake foreign man is a collective term for 14 kennitölur (social security numbers) held by unknown parties overseas,” the report stated, adding: “He first appeared on the scene in 2006 and was then registered owner of Icelandic companies.”

DV reports that the “fake man” owed the banks a hundred billion krónur when they collapsed, and that “he” had enjoyed large dividend payments and owned more than ten percent in some 400 different Icelandic companies between 2006 and 2008.

The fake man took almost ISK 12 billion in dividends in 2006, ISK 2 billion in 2007, and ISK 2.2 billion in 2008. The fake man was the second-highest paid investor of the year. ISK 2 billion is over USD 16 million at today’s exchange rate.

At the end of 2006, “he” owed the Icelandic banks around ISK 45 billion, which had rocketed to 100 billion when they collapsed in autumn 2008.

It is slowly becoming clearer that the identity of the Fake Foreign Man with 14 Icelandic ID numbers, massive debts and massive profits, was probably a group of well-known Icelandic investors/businesspeople.

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