REYKJAVIK, Iceland (AP) — Iceland on Friday rejected a controversial application by one of China’s wealthiest entrepreneurs to purchase land for a resort, saying there was no precedent for a foreigner to own such a large tract.Developer Huang Nubo, a 55-year-old former Chinese government official, had been ready to pay 1 billion Icelandic kronur ($8.8 million) for the 30,639-hectare (75,700-acre) tract — a remote, treeless stretch on Iceland’s north shore that represent 0.3 per cent of the island.
The scale of the proposed development had raised suspicions in Iceland, with some claiming it could be a covert attempt by Beijing to establish a toehold in the Arctic, but Huang defended the project as a high-end resort that would preserve the environment.
The Interior Ministry said in a statement “that it’s not possible to look past how much land the company wanted to purchase … and that there is no precedent for land on this scale being sold to foreigners.”
An Icelandic law that limits sales to foreigners “protect Iceland’s independence and the sovereignty of the land and Icelander’s opportunities to benefit from their resources,” the ministry said.
Huang’s representative in Iceland, Halldor Johannsson, said he was surprised by the rebuff, and added that there was nothing in Icelandic law specifically about the size of a parcel of land.
The Interior Ministry said the 1966 law on property requires that a company have a legal address in Iceland, that all directors have legal addresses in Iceland for at least five years, that four-fifth of the shares should be owned by Icelandic citizens and that Icelandic citizens should form a majority on the board of directors.
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