The Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós have claimed they face financial ruin or even jail following an “unjust and draconian” second prosecution for tax evasion.
The band said the looming second court trial had caused them to lose faith in their country. One member of the band has already left Iceland and three others said they were so disheartened by the situation that they might also leave.
The band members have admitted they evaded 151m Icelandic krona (£840,000) in taxes between 2011 and 2014. They have pleaded guilty, apologised and paid back the money, plus fines and interest. The band claim they were unaware of the tax evasion and blame their accountant.
However, they face a second trial at a separate Icelandic court. The band, which now includes just two of the original members, claim that the second trial is a breach of European convention on human rights rules on double jeopardy. They say the second court is likely to impose an additional fine of at least 200% of the tax evaded. Some of the band’s former members say they would not have the funds to pay and would find themselves jailed.
Georg “Goggi” Holm, the bassist, said the band was ashamed of the tax evasion, even though they were not aware of it at the time. “We are not denying that we did something wrong,” Holm said. “We went out of our way to fix it, find out what happened and pay the money back. But now we are being taken to court for the same thing again. We are not above any law in Iceland, but the law is not correct. And we are speaking out because we have a platform to speak out.”
Holm said he was considering leaving Iceland because of the dispute. Kjartan “Kjarri” Sveinsson, the keyboard player who left the band in 2013, and Orri Páll Dýrason, the band’s former drummer, also said they were weighing up leaving their home country.
Jónsi Birgisson, the band’s frontman, who has already left Iceland for Los Angeles, said: “We have spent years promoting the country; now they’re treating us like criminals.”
Holm said the tax evasion was the fault of the band’s accountant Gunnar Ásgeirsson, who worked for PwC. “We are musicians, we hired the people who we thought were the best in the world. And he failed us,” Holm said.
Ásgeirsson has since left PwC. PwC declined to comment or provide contact details for Ásgeirsson.
A spokesman for the Icelandic government said: “We do not offer comment on active legal cases and will therefore not provide further comment on the Sigur Rós band legal case.”