Suspects acquitted in Panama Papers money laundering case

Suspects acquitted in Panama Papers money laundering case

A Panama court on Friday acquitted all 28 suspects on trial in a money laundering case that followed the so-called Panama Papers. In 2016, eleven million secret documents were leaked showing how heads of state, companies and wealthy individuals evaded paying millions of euros in taxes thanks to structures that the legal consulting firm Mossack Fonseca helped create. The documents were on the law firm’s server.

In April, eight years after the scandal was exposed, the trial of Mossack Fonseca’s founders, Jürgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, who died in May, and other people involved began. They demanded penalties of up to twelve years in prison. However, the judge acquitted them because the leaked documents were obtained “illegally.” The court did not consider the other evidence sufficiently convincing.

Mossack Fonseca set up companies in Panama and the Virgin Islands on behalf of intermediaries. This in itself is not illegal, but it is often unclear who the ultimate owner of these offshore companies is. This means they can be used to evade taxes, launder money or circumvent sanctions. The Panama Papers, which were revealed at the time by an international group of journalists, showed, among other things, that the prime minister of Iceland had put millions of his family’s capital into an offshore company. He resigned as a result of the revelation.

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