The attorney general of Panama said the founders of law firm Mossack Fonseca were arrested and indicted on money-laundering charges.
Law enforcement authorities detained Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, the founders of the controversial law firm, because of concern they would attempt to flee Panama.
Panamanian Attorney General Kenia Porcell told reporters that evidence “allegedly identifies the Panamanian firm as a criminal organization that is dedicated to hiding assets or money from suspicious origins.”
Porcell said prosecutors in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Switzerland and the United States supported a year-long investigation that led to the arrests.
Panamanian authorities suspect the Mossack Fonseca law firm played a role in a corruption scandal involving Brazilian state-run oil company Petrobras, known as the Lava Jato case.
Mossack Fonseca is at the heart of a separate legal case known as the “Panama Papers,” which involved the theft of millions of documents from the law firm that were leaked to news media outlets in April 2016.
The documents detail how wealthy individuals employed offshore companies to hide income and potentially to evade taxes.
Prosecutors conducted a raid in search of evidence at the offices of Mossack Fonseca on Thursday and searched the homes of Mossack and Fonseca on Friday.
Elias Solano, a defense lawyer representing Mossack Fonseca, characterized accusations against the law firm as “weak” and said he planned to challenge evidence against the firm and its founders. [Reuters] – Mike Seemuth