Artist News Business News Legal

Sigur Rós – still fighting tax evasion charges – call on Icelandic government to act

By | Published on Tuesday 20 October 2020

Sigur Rós

Members of Sigur Rós have called on the Icelandic government to end the country’s so called “double jeopardy tax laws”, a system via which people and businesses – including the band – can be pursued twice over the same unpaid taxes.

Various members of Sigur Rós were charged with tax evasion in their home country last year over incorrect tax returns that were filed between 2011 and 2014, and which collectively resulted in 151 million Icelandic Krona (just over £945,000) of taxes going unpaid.

However, the band had already previously reached a deal with Iceland’s Directorate Of Tax Investigations, under which they had paid the unpaid taxes and accompanying fines.

The band blame a former accountant for the incorrect tax filings. Throughout they have stressed that they never deliberately intended to evade any tax obligations, while also pointing out that they fully complied with the Icelandic tax directorate’s investigation and paid all the monies owed.

Last year’s tax evasion charges were initially dismissed in court because of the previous deal with the Directorate Of Tax Investigations, which had also cleared the band of any tax evasion.

To prosecute the band a second time over those charges, it was ruled, would contravene a European human rights law that says that people should not be tried for the same crime twice – what is sometimes known as the double jeopardy principle.

However, a higher court in Reykjavik then overturned that dismissal, meaning the band are still fighting the tax evasions charges.

In a statement yesterday, the band noted that, because of concerns over cases like the one they involved in, “the Icelandic government recently took the decision to pause its pursuit of double jeopardy prosecutions with a view to amending the legislation”. However, they said, “over 100 cases, including that of Sigur Rós, remain open are still being aggressively pursued through the courts”. That, the band add, doesn’t make any sense.

The band’s statement went on: “Since we discovered that our financial advisors had seriously misled us over our tax liabilities for the period 2011-2014 we have trusted in the judicial process, which we truly believed would exonerate us of any wilful wrongdoing. We have always provided our full cooperation to all investigations and reached an agreement with the Icelandic tax authorities to pay what we owed plus interest and fines”.

“However, in the intervening years, we have become victims of an unjust and draconian prosecution by the Icelandic government who are unfairly seeking to portray us as deliberate tax evaders, something we have always and continue to strongly deny. We have been charged and tried twice for the same offence, our assets have been frozen for years now, we are facing potential financial ruin and as such we are calling on the Icelandic government to revoke these outdated double jeopardy tax laws, which have affected numerous Icelandic businesses”.

“The Icelandic government has now paused any further prosecutions as a result of these concerns but is still actively pursuing over 100 open cases, which is contradictory and makes no sense at all. We want to shine a light on systemic failures rather than individuals. We know that the legislation is broken and that the courts have their hands tied at present. This needs to be urgently addressed”.

They concluded: “We are fortunate to have a platform in order to speak out about this and we do so not just for ourselves but for the many others who have been caught up in this shameful failure of the Icelandic legal system, which does nothing but embarrass our country”.