Samherji's cases with the Icelandic tax authorities have been finalised and criminal cases dropped

Tax cases against Samherji and affiliated companies have been fully concluded in a settlement between Samherji and the Revenue and Customs Office in Iceland. This settlement involves the reimposition of tax on companies in the Samherji group for the operating years 2012-2018. Simultaneously, the District Prosecutor in Iceland has dropped criminal charges against the companies and their employees related to unpaid taxes and confirmed that neither the managers nor the employees of the companies in question had been found to have committed criminal offences in connection therewith.

The investigation covered the accounting and tax returns of the Samherji group for the years 2010-2018, where all data on the operations of the companies in question were analysed in detail by the authorities. The result is the following:

  • Samherji hf. pays an additional tax due to revenue taxes and social security contributions for a few crewmembers on foreign vessels. Taking into account corrections to income tax assessment, the net additional tax payment of Samherji hf. is ISK 60 million. During the period, the company paid ISK 30.116 million in taxes. Therefore, the company's tax payments increased by 0.2% during the period due to this.


  • Samherji hf. pays ISK 15 million in an administrative fine to the treasury due to unpaid social security contributions for the crewmembers.


  • Sæból fjárfestingarfélag ehf., a company affiliated with Samherji, pays ISK 153 million in additional tax. The additional taxes arise because the foreign income of Sæból was considered taxable in Iceland even though that revenue was never actually paid. There was significant legal uncertainty about this aspect of the case, which was resolved recently by a ruling from the Icelandic Court of Appeals (Landsréttur) in a similar case. During the period under investigation, Sæból paid a total of ISK 2.300 million in taxes. Therefore, due to this result, the company's tax payments increased by 6% during the period.


  • Cases related to the above that were under investigation by the District Prosecutor have now been dropped. The same applies to individuals with the legal status of suspected persons under the law in these cases.


Interest was added to the amounts paid to the treasury in unpaid taxes, as is customary in Iceland when cases with the tax authorities are settled.

"Three years ago, very serious accusations were made against us regarding tax evasion and money laundering, which were said to amount to billions of ISK. It has now become evident that those accusations were unfounded, and our tax cases have been closed with criminal charges being dropped and a new assessment of our taxes, as is common in cases where there are disputes about the interpretation of taxability," says Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, CEO of Samherji.

Disagreement on taxability

In these cases, there was a significant disagreement about taxability. Samherji and the Revenue and Customs Office disagreed about the interpretation of provisions that formed the legal basis for the taxability. A careful examination by the Revenue and Customs Office revealed that it could be assumed that the manner in which the tax issues were handled they had not been satisfactory in the strictest interpretation of the law. Tax liability would have arisen, at least to some extent. Added to that was the recent judgment of the Court of Appeal (Landsréttur) in a similar case where the legal uncertainty that was relevant here was eliminated, and taxability was ruled on the company involved.

Under these circumstances, Samherji considered it right to agree to the interpretation of the Revenue and Customs Office and thus accept the tax liability. The fact that eight individuals had been falsely accused and held the legal status of suspects for years in connection with these cases weighed heavily on that decision. It was clear that if there were lawsuits, the individuals concerned would have to be subjected to the pressure that comes with it for years to come. The executive management of Samherj hf. believed it was very important to release the shackles that such a legal status entails for the individuals involved. It is also important in this regard that the onslaught of public bodies has been on Samherji hf., companies in its group, managers and employees for more than a decade. This has caused a disturbance and interference in Samherji's operations, not least because a number of employees have had the legal status of suspects during that period.

It was important for the company to finalise these cases so that the employees could conduct their business in a usual manner, undisturbed by a possible prosecution, even if this meant giving up legal defences and accepting increased expenses for the company. As previously stated, those expenses only represent a 0.6% increase in taxes paid in the period in question and do not have a significant impact on the operations of said companies.

Cleared of serious allegations

"In these cases, a detailed investigation was carried out into the operations of all the companies in the group. Samherji worked closely and with integrity with the tax authorities and provided all requested documents and data. The inspector of taxes at the Revenue and Customs Office took the initiative and suggested finalising the cases with a settlement.

There has been an unusually heated discussion about the company and our people, both in the media and in the Icelandic Parliament. Therefore, it is a great relief to be able to clear away such serious accusations with the confirmation of official government organisations. The key point here is that the cases are now over without any lawsuits being brought against the company or any individual," says Thorsteinn Már Baldvinsson, CEO of Samherji.