Panama’s attorney general late on Tuesday raided the offices of the Mossack Fonseca law firm to search for any evidence of illegal activities, authorities said in a statement.
The Panama-based law firm is at the center of the “Panama Papers” leaks scandal that has embarrassed several world leaders and shone a spotlight on the shadowy world of offshore companies. The law firm helped a range of personalities from political leaders to filmstars to use tax havens to hide their wealth.
The national police, in an earlier statement, said they were searching for documentation that “would establish the possible use of the firm for illicit activities.” The firm has been accused of tax evasion and fraud.
Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in setting up offshore companies, did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday.
Earlier, founding partner Ramon Fonseca said the company had broken no laws, destroyed no documents, and all its operations were legal.
Governments across the world have begun investigating possible financial wrongdoing by the rich and powerful after the leak of more than 11.5 million documents, dubbed the Panama Papers, from the law firm that span four decades.
The papers have revealed financial arrangements of prominent figures, including friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of the prime ministers of Britain and Pakistan and of China’s President Xi Jinping, and the president of Ukraine. Along with Indian celebrities like Amitabh Bachchan and Aishwarya Rai.
This raid coincided with the Indian tax department sending queries to all clients of Mossack Fonseca in the country.
The Indian Express reported on Monday, that the tax department has sent a detailed questionnaire seeking details of permissions sought by the client before incorporating the offshore entity; the manner in which money was routed for opening it; details of ownership of the offshore entity; details of transactions and deposits in it, among other things.