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The billion króna shuffle

Last night, RÚV reported that Jón Ásgeir Jóhannesson [tycoon associated with Baugur Group, which once owned half the UK high street and more] had received a “gift or loan” amounting to ISK 1 billion from his pal Pálmi Haraldsson. The funds came through Pálmi’s company Fons and were funneled through Fons’s accounts no fewer than 12 times, in an evident attempt to hide the transaction. They were paid into Jón Ásgeir’s personal bank account in late 2008, when the Icelandic banks were in the process of collapsing.

Fons’s liquidator has now demanded that Jón Ásgeir return the funds.

Meanwhile, eyjan.is reports that on Tuesday next week it will be announced at a shareholders’ meeting of 365 Media [which Jón Ásgeir still owns] that Jón Ásgeir will be supplying ISK 1 billion in increased share capital to save the company from ruin. 365 is the publisher of Fréttablaðið and also owns Channel 2, visir.is, and a handful of radio stations.

One billion here, one billion there. Coincidence?

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  • Tom Harper January 28, 2010, 1:38 pm

    This raises a question that has been nagging at me: How have the fortunes of these men, Jón Ásgeir, Björgólfur and son, et al. not ended up on the chopping block?

  • icelandbob January 28, 2010, 4:25 pm

    I´m not completely sure about Jón Ásgeir, but with the Björgólfurs, Björgólfur snr. is now personally bankrupt. What they simply did was transfer all the personal debts to dad so that son could walk away clean.

    As for the debts of the companies, they will simply die with the company. It´s a well known way of doing business in Iceland that a company owner with a bankrupt company will simply open a new company with a different Kennitala (social security number). Any assets will be transferred to the new comanpy while the debts die with the bankrupt company. None of the companies debt is attributable to the owner.

    Of course if there are any gaps in this info, then feel free to correct what i´ve said…

  • Tom Harper January 28, 2010, 4:47 pm

    “Any assets will be transferred to the new comanpy while the debts die with the bankrupt company. None of the companies debt is attributable to the owner.”

    IANAL, but I’m pretty sure bankruptcy laws in other parts of the world don’t allow cleaning house so easily…do they?

  • Bromley86 January 28, 2010, 7:00 pm

    A recent discussion over on Icenews about kennitala swapping. The whole thing is a good read, but Mike’s post that I’ve linked to explains the nuances and answers questions like Tom’s:
    http://www.icenews.is/index.php/2010/01/18/two-icelandic-companies-go-bankrupt-in-unusual-fashion/comment-page-1/#comment-110939

  • Kris January 28, 2010, 7:01 pm

    icelandbob: .. and the new company will buy the assets of the old company for pennies when it comes up for auction/liquidation. My dad told me about that scam running in the 60’s. A classic!