PANAMA PAPERS: Law firm, Mossack Fonseca, shuts operation

Panama Papers
Panama Papers

The offshore law firm whose 11.5 million leaked files led to revelations in the Panama Papers global investigation, Mossack Fonseca, will shut down operations.

The law firm says it will shut down its remaining offices by the end of the month, PREMIUM TIMES gathered.

According to a statement obtained by the the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) earlier in the week, the firm said it has suffered “reputational deterioration”.

“The reputational deterioration, the media campaign, the financial siege and the irregular actions of some Panamanian authorities have caused irreparable damage, whose obligatory consequence is the total cessation of operations to the public,” it said in its statement.

The firm said it would “continue to call for justice” and would cooperate with authorities to “demonstrate that no crime has been committed.”

Earlier in November 2017, Mossack Fonseca in a statement sent to client which seems to have foreshadowed the firm’s shutdown, said it had to “significantly reduce” its staff due to changes to the laws and an “adverse business environment.”

The law firm’s collapse comes on the heels of revelations from the Panama Papers investigation published almost two years ago.

The global investigation revealed the offshore ties of some of the world’s most powerful people.

The firm’s leaked internal files contained information on more than 214,000 offshore entities tied to 12 current or former heads of state, 140 politicians and others. The Panama Papers revelation also brought down the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan.

More than 400 journalists from 80 countries have published hundreds of stories since the first wave of revelations on April 3, 2016.

PREMIUM TIMES was the only Nigerian newspaper involved in the global investigation.

In 2016, police and investigators raided Mossack Fonseca offices in Panama and El Salvador while authorities in Venezuela arrested a local employee. By the end of that year, at least nine Mossack Fonseca offices, including one in the United States, had closed.

“For 40 years Mossack Fonseca has operated beyond reproach in our home country and other jurisdictions where we have operations,” a statement by the firm said at the time.

“Our firm has never been accused or charged in connection with criminal wrongdoing.”

But in February 2017, when police in Panama arrested Mossack Fonseca’s founders, Ramon Fonseca and Jurgen Mossack, on money laundering charges as part of investigations into Brazil’s largest-ever bribery scandal, the argument changed.

Both men were, however, released in April.

Founded in 1986, the Panama law firm grew into an offshore empire with more than 40 offices around the world, from the British Virgin Islands to New Zealand. In 2013, it employed more than 600 people and its billings exceeded $42 million.

Revelations from the investigations have helped governments in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas recover more than $500 million.

Nigeria has however not announced any fund recovery even though many of its political and corporate elites were mentioned in the investigation. Some of the Nigerians mentioned in the Panama Papers include Senate President Bukola Saraki and his predecessor, David Mark.


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