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Sigur Ros members cleared of Icelandic tax evasion charges after investigation

Sigur Ros at Forest Hills Stadium
Sigur Ros at Forest Hills Stadium in 2017 (more by P Squared)

Three members of Sigur Rós (Jón Pór Birgisson aka Jonsi, Georg Hólm and Orri Páll Dýrason) were recently under investigation for tax fraud. According to the Icelandic publication Fréttablaðið, the Reykjavik sheriff had placed the assets of all three members under injunction, with over 800 million kronas (approx. 8 million USD) of assets frozen. Here’s more on the situation, via The Reykjavik Grapevine:

The assets of vocalist Jón Þór Birgisson, aka Jónsi, make up the majority of the total: they include thirteen properties, two motorcycles, two cars, six bank accounts and shares in three companies for a total value of 638 million ISK (6.4 million USD). In addition, 82 million ISK worth of assets (820 thousand USD) belonging to drummer Orri Páll Dýrason have also been frozen, as well as two properties valued at 78.5 million ISK (790 thousand USD) that belong to bassist Georg Hólm.

As Morgunblaðið reports, the three members did end up paying their debt, including interest, and have been cleared of charges. Member Georg Hólm spoke to the publication on the issue:

“This was quite annoying and extremely costly for us […] We thought we had a good relationship with this accountant, we fully trusted him, but then it turned out he hadn’t handed in the right documents at the right time. This is nothing but a complete mess that we had no knowledge of until we were notified by the Commissioner.”

The band also gave a full statement to Pitchfork, which you can read below:

Sigur Rós have nothing to hide and have fully complied relevant information to the director of tax investigations (SRS) to resolve any and all issues. The band had an accounting relationship with PwC [PricewaterhouseCoopers] in Iceland from the beginning of their career until 2012, when they followed their long-standing accountant to his new venture Ryni Endurskodun. Late in 2014 the band were alerted that they had not filed correct tax returns for some years during the period 2010-2014. Part of the tax returns during that period were not filed correctly and that is not disputed by the band. This notification from the SRS [Directorate of Tax Investigations] was a surprise to the band as its members were all along in good faith that their tax returns were being submitted correctly by the accountant handling their affairs. This was disappointing to Sigur Rós and its members as they have from the beginning emphasized that their tax returns ought to be filed correctly in Iceland.
The band moved to accountancy firm, Virtus, at the start of 2015 to begin the process of getting their tax returns into correct form in accordance with the law. The band understand the SRS’s need to do their job, but would have preferred something less heavy-handed than the asset freeze. Especially because the bands members have from the start of the investigation co-operated fully with the directorate, submitted all information requested by the authorities and there was no need to freeze the assets of the members of Sigur Rós. This is in accordance with the opinion of the lawyers of Sigur Rós at LOGOS legal services.


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