Bjarni Benediktsson Resigns as Iceland’s Finance Minister Amid Íslandsbanki Share Sale Controversy
Bjarni Benediktsson Steps Down
Bjarni Benediktsson, who has served as Iceland’s Minister of Finance since 2013 and briefly held the position of Prime Minister in 2017, tendered his resignation on Tuesday. The decision came in light of an opinion issued by Parliamentary Ombudsman Skúli Magnússon regarding Benediktsson’s approval of a 22.5% share sale in Íslandsbanki. The opinion, published just 11 minutes prior to Benediktsson’s press conference, cited a lack of information in the sale documents and raised concerns about transparency.
Parliamentary Ombudsman’s Critique
Magnússon’s opinion highlighted the absence of details about adherence to administrative law rules on special eligibility in the sale process, which involved two tenders in 2021 and 2022. He emphasized that the lack of information risked public trust and contradicted the objectives of Alþingi, the national parliament of Iceland.
The controversy surrounding Benediktsson’s role in the Íslandsbanki share auction intensified when it was revealed that Hafsilfur ehf., owned by his father, Benedikt Sveinsson, was one of the purchasers. This raised questions about transparency, particularly in the aftermath of Iceland’s banking collapse in 2008.
Benediktsson claimed that he became aware of Hafsilfur’s involvement only after the auction when he saw a buyer list from the State Financial Supervisory Authority. Despite expressing his disagreement with Magnússon’s opinion and asserting his clear conscience, Benediktsson respected the Ombudsman’s stance. He discussed his resignation with both the Prime Minister and his Independence Party, but he did not step down as the party’s chair.
It is crucial to ensure transparency and adherence to administrative law rules in any financial transactions. The controversy surrounding Bjarni Benediktsson’s approval of the Íslandsbanki share sale has raised valid concerns regarding transparency and public trust. While Benediktsson maintains his innocence, his resignation demonstrates a commitment to upholding the principles of accountability and integrity in public office.
This article was generated with the support of AI and reviewed by an editor.