The favourite theory doing the rounds is that Reykjavik is awash with Russian mafia money. Iceland, they reason, is precisely halfway between Moscow and New York, making it the perfect stop-off point for a Russian oligarch to launder the odd billion roubles. Plus, wasn't the Russian connection cemented by presidents Reagan and Gorbachev's choice of Reykjavik as their setting to end the Cold War?
Icelanders, naturally, assert that the Russian money notion is nonsense. But everyone knows where it comes from. Three years ago, a trio of Icelanders led by Bjorgolfur Thor Bjorgolfsson sold a Russian brewing business he built from scratch from a disused Pepsi plant to Heineken for more than pounds 200m. Mr Bjorgolfsson, who, like most of his peers is in his late 30s, used his spoils to acquire most of Landsbanki through his company, Samson Global Holdings. He also has a 30 per cent stake in Actavis, the pharmaceuticals company set to float on the London Stock Exchange this year. Hence the theory that Icelandic companies are awash with Russian money.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
From The Independent, February 10 2005: