Members of the Icelandic ambient/rock band Sigur Rós have been cleared of charges for tax fraud after two separate investigations into the matter over the past few years. According to RUV, the reason that Sigur Rós is being acquitted now is that they would be victims of double jeopardy if they were to be convicted. Iceland’s State Treasury has paid all 56 million Icelandic Krona, or $463,000, of the group’s court costs.
News of the first charges came out to the public in 2018 when the band was first cleared following a three-year investigation. At that time, they released a statement on the matter, saying “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.”
800 million Icelandic Krona (8 million dollars) of the band’s assets were frozen during the investigation, which ended up all being their frontman Jónsi’s properties – “thirteen properties, two motorcycles, two cars, six bank accounts and three company shares.” The band promptly paid back their tax debt following the inquiry.
Later in 2018, their longtime drummer, Orri Páll Dýrason, was accused of alleged sexual assault and left the band. Then, in 2019, the whole lineup including Dýrason were indicted on some new tax evasion charges, claiming that they had allegedly evaded paying 151 million Icelandic Krona, or $1.2 million dollars. The band once again blamed their accountant.
In 2020, Sigur Rós spoke out about what they believe is an “unjust” tax system in Iceland. “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,” the band’s members Kjartan Sveinsson, Jónsi Birgisson, Georg Hólm and former member Orri Páll Dýrason wrote in a joint statement. “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.”