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Offshore Revelations ‘Have Damaged Icelanders' Reputation’

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Offshore Revelations ‘Have Damaged Icelanders' Reputation’

Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson

President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson, speaking on CNN. Photo: CNN/YouTube

“It has often been more enjoyable to be an Icelander abroad,” according to RÚV’s foreign correspondent in Germany, Arthúr Björgvin Bollason. He was interviewed on RÚV, Iceland’s national broadcaster, this morning.

He recently gave a reading in Bavaria of his book on Iceland to be published in Germany this fall, but was disappointed that none of the questions he received afterwards had to do with the book. Instead he was asked, “How come the ruling officials in this tiny society on this magnificent island are so sick with greed that they have no shame when it comes to money?”

The question came in the wake of the resignation of Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, whose connections to a Tortola company were revealed by the Panama Papers leak. Then, last night, it was reported in Süddeutsche Zeitung and elsewhere in Europe that President Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson also has connections to at least five Swiss bank accounts and to at least two offshore companies through his wife Dorrit Moussaieff’s family. Last week, it was revealed that the first lady’s parents were shareholders in a company called Lasca Finance Limited (LFL), which was registered in the British Virgin Islands from 1999 to 2005.

Two weeks ago, Ólafur Ragnar replied to CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour’s question about whether he and his wife would also be caught up in the scandal (i.e., whether they too had links to offshore accounts) with a resounding: “No, no, no, no no, that’s not going to be the case.” The headline of Süddeutsche Zeitung, Germany’s largest newspaper, today was ‘Nein, nein, nein, nein, nein ― oder doch,’ meaning ’No, no, no, no, no–or yes.’

“You thought this was over. What Icelanders need to realize is that recent events, and now the president on the front page of a major newspaper, have created an image of the nation reminiscent of a primitive people. We’re becoming some foolish congregation at the end of the world, who got into something fat unexpectedly and can’t stop stuffing our bellies. It’s a major misunderstanding to think this doesn’t affect the image of Icelanders abroad. We’ve been a disgrace the world over, not the least in our neighboring countries, such as Germany.”

A video of the song No Limit by the Dutch band 2 Unlimited has gone viral since the CNN interview. It incorporates the president’s reply into the song. The video, called ‘Ólafur Ragnar Campaign Son,’ referring to the upcoming presidential election, was created by Icelandic musician Terrordisco. You can watch the video below.

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