Mossack Fonseca's office Panama ... Picture Credit: ABC Australia

Panama Papers

#PanamaPapers: Mossack Fonseca’s El Savador office raided

By Nicholas Ibekwe

April 09, 2016

Officials from the office of the attorney general in El Salvador have raided the local office of Mossack Fonseca and confiscated several documents and equipment, Al Jazeera is reporting.

The Panama-based law firm at the centre of the massive data leak the media has dubbed  the Panama Papers. 

The International Committee of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) coordinated investigations in at least 80 countries, exposing the shadowy offshore links of world leaders such as of Russian President Vladimir Putin and relatives of the prime ministers of Britain and Pakistan and the presidents of China and Ukraine.

Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, Iceland’s prime minister, was forced to quit office after an offshore  company, owned by he and his wife, was revealed.

Friday’s raid was personally supervised by Attorney General Douglas Melendez.

Mr. Melendez said the government decided to raid the offices after Mossack Fonseca removed its office sign late on Thursday, a move he claimed raised suspicions.

An employee of the law firm  later said the company was planning to move, the attorney general later tweeted.

The El Salvador office is not listed on Mossack Fonseca’s corporate website.   Although the officials seized about 20 computers, some documents and interviewed seven employees, no one was detained, Mr. Melendez said.

“At this moment we cannot speak about [any] crimes; all we can do at this moment is our job,” he said.

He said the government would analyse all the confiscated information and examine its financial, accounting and legal aspects to see if any law has been broken.   Mr Melendez said it appears Mossack Fonseca office in the country was helping to process information for clients worldwide. 

Governments across the world have begun investigating possible financial wrongdoing by the rich and powerful after the leak of more than 11.5 million documents from the law firm that span four decades.

Activists in Nigeria have frowned at the silence and inaction of the Nigerian government despite revelations that the senate president, Bukola Saraki, and his predecessor, David Mark, own offshore compnies in clear violation of the country’s laws.