Police raid law firm at center of ‘Panama Papers’

PANAMA CITY, Panama, April 13 (UPI) — Police raided the headquarters of law firm Mossack Fonseca, site of a massive data leak about private offshore accounts referred to as the Panama Papers.

Organized crime prosecutors searched the Panama City, Panama, office Tuesday for evidence of money laundering and terrorism links as police established a perimeter around the downtown office building. The operation was undertaken “without incident or interference,” prosecutors said.

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

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela has said he is eager to work with other countries to expand transparency in Panama’s offshore financial sector.

Mossack Fonseca said it is the victim of a computer hack and denied wrongdoing, noting its actions have been above reproach throughout the firm’s 40-year history. Ramon Fonseca, a partner in the law firm, served in the Valera administration but resigned earlier this year after allegations the firm was linked to the corruption scandal involving Petrobras, the Brazilian national oil company.

Eleven million documents from the firm were leaked to the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, and are under analysis by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The confidential documents thus far show how some wealthy people shield their money to avoid taxes and sanctions. The names of politicians and celebrities, globally, are listed in the documents. Also of concern is possible insight into the trail of money leading to terrorist organizations.

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