Dorrit Moussaieff, wife of Ólafur Ragnar Grímssson, President of Iceland, used tax shelters for some of her considerable fortune, according to documents released to Le Monde, Süddeutshe Zeitung and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and reported by Reykjavik Media, The Guardian and others this evening. Dorrit is a wealthy London jeweler and socialite.
Dorrit is reportedly connected to at least five Swiss bank accounts through her family and to at least two offshore companies, according to the leaked documents, known as the Swiss Leaks and the Panama Papers.
Previously unreported papers—part of a leak from HSBC’s private bank in Geneva—known as the Swiss Leaks reportedly show how Dorrit had links to offshore companies and to trusts registered outside the UK.
According to the leaked documents, Dorrit is listed as one of three Moussaieff family members who jointly owned a company in the British Virgin Islands called Jaywick Properties Inc. She was also a beneficiary of the Moussaieff Sharon Trust, The Guardian reports. The family is best known for running a jewelry shop on New Bond Street, Mayfair, and is reportedly among the world’s wealthiest jewelers.
While the president himself doesn’t have an offshore account in the records, Dorrit was listed as a beneficiary of five companies and trusts that have held Swiss banks accounts, ICIJ reports. Her family, including her two sisters, had accounts that together held as much as USD 80 million in HSBC’s Swiss Private Bank in 2006 and 2007. Dorrit herself appears not to have played a role in most of the holdings, according to ICIJ, which also highlights that the documents don’t show any wrongdoing by Dorrit. "... and it is not necessarily illegal to have offshore companies or Swiss bank accounts. But the documents raise questions about whether Iceland’s first lady benefited from the offshore tax strategies of her parents and whether her interests have been fully disclosed," ICIJ reports.
Last week it was reported that Dorrit’s parents were shareholders in a company called Lasca Finance Limited (LFL), which was registered in the British Virgin Islands from 1999 to 2005. This was revealed in the Panama Papers.
A presidential spokesman, Örnólfur Thorsson, said Ólafur Ragnar has never had any knowledge of his wife Dorrit’s financial affairs. “President Grímsson does not have, nor has he at any time had, any information about the financial affairs of his wife or other members of the Moussaieff family. He and his wife lead independent lives,” a letter from the president's spokesman to ICIJ read.
In a reply to ICIJ, the first lady's law firm wrote that her financial affairs are a private matter and have always been conducted legally: “Ms. Moussaieff and her husband have always and continue to conduct their financial affairs entirely separately from each other and neither has knowledge of the other’s financial circumstances. Ms. Moussaieff’s private financial affairs are conducted in compliance with all relevant tax and legal regimes. Any insinuation to the contrary would be defamatory.”
Dorrit moved her legal registered domicile to the UK in 2012.
Following the resignation of now former Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, in early April after it was revealed that he had had connections to an offshore company through his wife, the president announced that he would run for his sixth term in office in the June presidential election.
Ólafur Ragnar—who praised the Panama exposé as “a great public service” and “important wake-up call” for politicians—declared in a recent interview with CNN that there would be no revelations similar to those about the PM concerning offshore accounts held by him or his wife. “No. No, no, no, no. That’s not going to be the case,” he said in the interview.
The president, soon to turn 73, has been in office for 20 years. There was now “a strong demand for stability [and] experience,” he declared, following the PM's resignation and subsequent political fallout after the first wave of Panama Papers coverage. Early polls indicated that he might easily win reelection, but a poll published this morning by Frjáls verslun, Iceland Review’s sister publication, indicated that historian Guðni Th. Jóhannesson might narrowly beat Ólafur Ragnar in a two man race, 51 percent to 49 percent.
Guðni Th. Jóhannesson has confirmed with supporters that he will be running, Vísir reported this afternoon. However, he is yet to confirm or deny this to the media. He announced last week that he will be holding a meeting on Thursday to declare whether or not he will be running.
Additional reporting by Zoë Robert.