President of Iceland Ólafur Ragnar Grímsson says he had interpreted CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour’s question, in an interview last month, about whether anything would be discovered about him and his family linking them to offshore companies, to be about himself, his wife Dorrit Moussaieff and his family in Iceland—not Dorrit’s family. Ólafur Ragnar made the statement at a press conference at Bessastaðir, the presidential residence, earlier today.
The president responded to Amanpour’s question with: “No. No, no, no, no. That’s not going to be the case.” A couple of weeks later Reykjavik Media, The Guardian and others reported that Dorrit is connected to at least five Swiss bank accounts through her family and to at least two offshore companies, according to leaked documents, known as the Swiss Leaks and the Panama Papers. The Moussaieff family are wealthy jewelers. Dorrit was born in Israel but moved to London with her family as a teenager.
The CNN interview (Amanpour asks the president about any possible offshore links at 4:15).
Ólafur Ragnar defended Dorrit’s parents’ use of a HSBC Swiss private bank account, saying that they had conducted business in Switzerland for decades. Dorrit, however, has never had a bank account or business with the bank, he said. He went on to say that she had never had anything to do with Jaywick Properties and knows nothing about it. 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.
The president added that he had not had much interaction with his parents-in-law and first met them when they were around 70 years old. He said that they lived their independent lives and he only met Dorrit’s family once, twice, maybe three times per year, Vísir reports.
When asked whether he and Dorrit would disclose the details of their personal finances, Ólafur Ragnar said that he would consider it and would discuss it with Dorrit but that it would ultimately be Dorrit’s decision whether or not she published her financial statements, RÚV reports.
He said that the recent news reports about the Moussaieff family have not damaged his reputation or that of Iceland and that they have not affected his bid for reelection.
Ólafur Ragnar is seeking a sixth term in office.
Iceland’s presidential election will be held in June.
Iceland’s now former prime minister, Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, was forced to step down after it was revealed in coverage of the Panama Papers that he and his wife had owned an offshore company. Other Icelandic politicians and businesspeople have also been found to have links to offshore companies.
On Monday, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists will release a searchable database with information on more than 200,000 offshore entities that are part of the Panama Papers investigation. The database will likely be the largest ever release of secret offshore companies and the people behind them.