U.S. Indicts 4 in First Panama Papers-Related Charges

December 5, 2018, 11:12 AM UTC

U.S. prosecutors unsealed Tuesday an indictment against four people affiliated with the Panama City law firm Mossack Fonseca, the first such American charges related to the 2016 Panama Papers leak.

The charges, filed in the Southern District of New York, include defrauding the United States, wire fraud, tax evasion, money laundering, and making false statements to investigators. An accountant, an investment advisor, and a former client of Mossack Fonseca’s are under arrest while a Mossack Fonseca partner, Ramses Owens, remains on the lam, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The American law enforcement action follows a Panama Papers-related raid on Deutsche Bank in Frankfurt, Germany last week. Prosecutors around the U.S. are building other cases, the New York Times reports. Mossack Fonseca shut down in March.

The indictment details tax evasion-related crimes dating to 2000 and implies that at least dozens more Americans were using Mossack Fonseca’s services.

One former client, now dead, helped authorities in their investigation by recording calls with Owens and introducing him to an undercover agent, the indictment reveals.

That client joined a voluntary tax amnesty program offered by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS), despite recommendations from Mossack Fonseca to instead put funds into pre-existing “shelf companies” that the law firm established to enable its clients to hide their funds.