Panama Papers: Authorities Raid Mossack Fonseca Headquarters

By Denisse Moreno, Epoch Times
April 13, 2016 10:33 am Last Updated: April 13, 2016 10:33 am

Officials raided the offices of Mossack Fonseca on April 12, searching for evidence of illegal activity—10 days after the law firm hit the spotlight after a massive data leak.

Organized crime prosecutors were looking for evidence of money laundering and financing terrorism.

The raid comes after 11.5 million documents from the Panama-based law firm were leaked to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other news organizations. The data breach named 12 world leaders and 140 other politicians in connection to offshore companies in 21 tax havens. The names included Vladimir Putin, Argentine president Mauricio Macri, soccer superstar Lionel Messi, and the Prime Minister of Iceland.

Documents included emails, share certificates, and passports.

After the data was leaked, the Panamanian government said it would investigate.

Police officers surrounded the offices while prosecutors looked for records.

A police officer stands outside Mossack Fonseca law firm while Organized crime prosecutors raid the offices, in Panama City, Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Organized crime prosecutors raided the offices of the Mossack Fonseca law firm looking for evidence of money laundering and financing terrorism following a leak of documents about tax havens it set up for wealthy international clients. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
A police officer stands outside Mossack Fonseca law firm while organized crime prosecutors raid the offices, in Panama City, April 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

In a statement, the attorney general’s office said the raid was “to obtain documentation linked to the information published in news articles that establish the use of the firm in illicit activities.”

Officials said searches were carried out at other divisions of the law firm and at a computer support center.

Meanwhile, Mossack Fonseca has denied any illegal activity. The law firm said it simply set up offshore financial accounts and anonymous shell companies for clients and claimed it was not involved in how the accounts were used.

A police officer stands near a window inside the Mossack Fonseca law firm while Organized crime prosecutors raid the offices, in Panama City, Tuesday, April 12, 2016. Organized crime prosecutors raided the offices of the Mossack Fonseca law firm looking for evidence of money laundering and financing terrorism following a leak of documents about tax havens it set up for wealthy international clients. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)
A police officer stands near a window inside the Mossack Fonseca law firm while organized crime prosecutors raid the offices, in Panama City, April 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

 

In a tweet, Mossack Fonseca said on the night of the search that it was cooperating with authorities during the investigation.

The raid follows a visit from intellectual property prosecutors to Mossack Fonseca after the firm’s founder alleged that a computer was hacked to reveal the millions of records about tax havens.

The law firm filed a complaint about the data breach immediately after the Panama Papers were released. Co-founder Ramon Fonseca said the real crime committed was the hack and no one was talking it.

“Finally the real criminals are being investigated,” Fonseca said on April 11.

He has said he suspects the hack was not inside job. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.