Fishrot Files: Icelandic Bank Investigations Into Samherji Bribes, Tax Evasion Begin
20 Nov 2019

Two Icelandic banks are already investigating the accounting of Samherji—the Icelandic fishing giant currently embroiled in a scandal involving bribing Namibian officials for fishing quotas, and using a shell company in a tax haven to squirrel away the proceeds, Vísir reports. Samherji’s activities were brought to light last week by Wikileaks through the Fishrot Files, with extensive coverage from Stundin, RÚV’s investigative news programme Kveikur, Al-Jazeera and The Namibian.

Further, Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir told RÚV she is intends to boost funding for tax investigators and prosecutors for the investigation, and even President Guðni Th. Jóhannesson has weighed in on the matter.

Investigations and legal changes

Both Arion Bank and Íslandsbanki are reportedly both investigating the fishing giant’s activities. The directors of both banks would not go into specific details as to what they were investigating regarding Samherji, but the company’s acting CEO, Björgólfur Jóhannsson, told reporters that the company would fully cooperate and assist with investigations.

In addition to confirming that it is a priority of the Icelandic government to provide prosecutors and tax authorities with the funding they might need to investigate Samherji, she added that it is necessary to review existing laws about large Icelandic companies. This is a matter that would concern many different ministries, she says, and is also hoping that the draft of a bill that would protect whistleblowers can be introduced to Parliament soon. For context, the entire Fishrot Files scandal was brought to light by a whistleblower, Jóhannes Stefánsson, the former managing director and CEO of Samherji in Namibia.

By Andie Fontaine, The Reykjavík Grapevine, 19 November 2019

Read more at The Reykjavík Grapevine

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