Police in Panama have raided the offices of the firm at the centre of the Panama Papers revelations. Organized crime police surrounded Mossack Fonseca’s headquarters in Panama City on Tuesday while prosecutors entered the offices to search for documents. According to the attorney general’s office the aim of the operation had been to obtain documentation linked to the information published in news articles that establish the use of the firm in illicit activities.
The unprecedented leak of 11.5 million files has caused disorder around the world. There are links to 12 current or former heads of state and government in the data. More than 60 relatives and associates of heads of state and other politicians are also implicated.
The files have revealed a suspected billion-dollar money laundering ring involving close associates of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Also mentioned in the documents leaked are the brother-in-law of China’s President Xi Jinping, Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, Argentina President Mauricio Macri, the father of UK Prime Minister David Cameron and three of the children of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Officials in France, Germany, Austria and South Korea have begun investigations into possible malfeasance, from money laundering to tax evasion. France’s finance minister, Michel Sapin, told Parliament the government was putting Panama back on a blacklist of havens for tax evaders.
On 4 April, the president of the Chilean branch of Transparency International resigned after documents from the Panamanian law firm showed he was linked to at least five offshore companies. While he is not accused of illegal activity, the leaks called into question his post at Transparency International, an organization that seeks to monitor and root out corporate and political corruption worldwide.
On 5 April, Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson stepped down after leaked documents revealed he purchased an offshore company called Wintris in 2007 with his wife but failed to declare this as an interest when he entered parliament in 2009. He sold his 50% of Wintris to his wife for 1 dollar eight months later. A document signed by his wife in 2015 shows the company was used to invest millions of dollars which they had inherited. Gunnlaugsson is accused of concealing millions of dollars worth of family assets. Gunnlaugsson said no rules were broken and denied that he or his wife had benefited financially from his conduct.
Following the leak of information from Mossack Fonseca’s, Panama announced it would form an independent commission to review the country’s financial practises. President Juan Carlos Varela said the commission would evaluate the current practises and propose the adoption of measures to strengthen the transparency of the financial and legal systems.