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Friday, May 24, 2024

Panama Papers Scandal: Mossack Fonseca Trial Concludes

The hearings of the trial for alleged money laundering against the heads of the defunct Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, epicenter of the international “Panama Papers” scandal, as well as about twenty other defendants, concluded this Friday in Panama.

The sentence, however, will be announced in the coming weeks. Judge Baloísa Marquínez availed herself of the 30 working days stipulated by Panamanian law to give her verdict, a period that may be longer depending on the length of the file.

“The court adheres to the legal term for the issuance of the corresponding sentence,” Marquínez stated at the conclusion of the hearings of the trial that began on April 8 in Panama City.

During the trial, prosecutor Isis Soto requested 12 years in prison, the maximum penalty for money laundering, for Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca, founders of the Mossack Fonseca firm, epicenter of the scandal that broke out in 2016.

“Truly, there has been a great injustice that has been committed, not only against me, but against all the people who have worked with me, who are many,” Mossack declared at the conclusion of the hearing.

Soto also requested sentences of between 5 to 12 years in prison for 24 other defendants, mainly former employees of the firm, while requesting the acquittal of three other accused individuals.

“Mr. Jürgen Mossack and Mr. Ramón Fonseca […] received and transferred funds from illicit activities that occurred in Germany and Argentina,” Soto said.

According to the prosecution, Mossack, 76, and Fonseca, 71, are responsible for facilitating, through the law firm, the creation of opaque companies in which executives of the German multinational Siemens deposited millions of euros outside the company’s actual accounting.

This “slush fund” would have been used to hide money from the payment of commissions. The Panamanian law firm, according to the accusation, was also used to store money from a massive scam in Argentina.

The trial took place eight years after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) published the “Panama Papers” on April 3, 2016.

This investigation, based on the leak of 11.5 million documents from the Mossack Fonseca law firm, revealed how heads of state and government, political leaders, personalities from finance, sports, and the arts concealed properties, companies, assets, and profits to evade taxes or launder money.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and former leaders of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson; Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif; Great Britain, David Cameron; and Argentina, Mauricio Macri; as well as Argentine soccer star Lionel Messi were some of the names mentioned then.

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