Founders of Panama Papers Law Firm Arrested on Money Launder

Founders of Panama Papers Law Firm Arrested on Money Launder

Postby Oscar » Fri Mar 03, 2017 11:37 am

Founders of Panama Papers Law Firm Arrested on Money Laundering Charges

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By Will Fitzgibbon, Emilia Díaz-Struck and Michael Hudson Feb 11, 2017

Police in Panama arrested the founders of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal, on money laundering charges after authorities raided the firm’s headquarters as part of investigations into Brazil’s largest-ever bribery scandal.

The firm’s founding partners, Ramón Fonseca and Jürgen Mossack, were taken into police custody on Thursday, according to the men’s lawyer. Kenia Porcell, Panama’s attorney general, released a statement (in Spanish) [ ] that said evidence gathered by her office indicated that the law firm was a potential “criminal organization” that concealed and removed evidence related to “illegal activity.”

Both Fonseca and Mossack are well-known in business and political circles [ ... crets.html ] in Panama. Fonseca is a former adviser to Panama’s president, Juan Varela, and Mossack served on Panama’s council on foreign relations from 2009 to 2014.

They have consistently denied any wrongdoing. Their law firm says that it is not at fault in cases in which offshore companies it set up for clients were later used for illegitimate purposes. The firm told ICIJ last year that it follows “both the letter and spirit of the law.”

Mossack Fonseca issued a statement Thursday that accused [ ... y-Raid.pdf ] Panamanian officials of “an attempt to divert the attention from those who really merit a deep and proactive investigation.” It said authorities “have not presented a single piece of evidence that shows us guilty.”

The arrests come 10 months after the Panama Papers investigation by ICIJ and other media partners revealed that Mossack Fonseca had set up or managed offshore companies and other hard-to-trace corporate structures for world leaders, drug kingpins, American fraudsters and other clients. ICIJ, German daily Süddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other media partners worked together to investigate a trove of 11.5 million leaked documents detailing the law firm’s day-to-day operations over nearly 40 years.

Shortly before the media partnership began releasing its findings, Brazilian and Panamanian authorities began targeting Mossack Fonseca as part of a wide-ranging bribery investigation in Brazil – dubbed Lava Jato (“Operation Car Wash”) – that has led to criminal charges against leading Brazilian politicians. Brazilian prosecutors said in January 2016 that they were investigating the law firm’s alleged role in helping individuals involved in the multi-million-dollar bribery case use offshore companies to launder money.

Porcell, Panama’s attorney general, said in her statement that bribe money circulated through various companies and was then “laundered or washed through Panama.”


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