REYKJAVIK Feb 7 Iceland's Supreme Court on
Thursday found the boss of failed retail group Baugur guilty of
tax evasion, handing him a suspended one-year prison sentence
and a fine of 62 million Icelandic crowns ($488,959).
Jon Asgeir Johannesson was the head of Baugur, which owned
stakes in a string of British high-street retailers but
collapsed under the weight of huge debts amid Iceland's
The Supreme Court found that Johannesson had deliberately
filed erroneous tax returns on earnings of 172 million crowns.
He was also convicted on several counts of tax irregularities
related to the activities of the Baugur investment firm.
Baugur once amassed stakes in retailers such as toy store
Hamley's and frozen foods chain Iceland with Johannesson
becoming a key player as Iceland's financial firms expanded
across Europe with debt-fuelled acquisitions.
But as the global financial crisis struck in 2008, the
mountain of debt came crashing down and Iceland's commercial
banks collapsed in quick succession, eventually forcing the
country to seek aid from the International Monetary Fund.
Baugur filed for bankruptcy in March 2009 with debts of more
than 1 billion pounds ($1.57 billion).
Iceland has been looking to bring to justice those who were
instrumental in the spectacular financial collapse.
In December last year, two former executives of one of the
three collapsed banks were sentenced to jail in the first major
trial of the Icelandic bankers linked to the crisis.
($1 = 0.6368 British pounds)
(Reporting by Robert Robertsson via Stockholm newsroom; Editing
by Robin Pomeroy)