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Mossack Fonseca, law firm in tax evasion expose, alleges conspiracy

world Updated: Apr 04, 2016 12:53 IST
Mossack Fonseca

The building of Panama-based Mossack Fonseca law firm offices in Panama City. An investigation into the documents by more than 100 media groups revealed the hidden offshore dealings in the assets of around 140 political figures -- including 12 current or former heads of states.(AFP)

The Panama papers leak on Monday sent ripples in many major business houses as well as top offices in many countries.

The head of the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca which is the epicentre of the massive leak of offshore financial data denied any wrongdoing, and said his firm has fallen victim to “an international campaign against privacy”.

German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung said it received a cache of 11.5 million leaked documents from the law firm’s database, and shared them with more than 100 other international news outlets as well as the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ).

The director of Mossack Fonseca, Ramon Fonseca, specialized in setting up offshore companies, said in a telephone interview with Reuters that his firm had suffered a successful but “limited” hack.

The director of Mossack Fonseca, Ramon Fonseca, was a senior government official in Panama until March. (Twitter)

Fonseca, the firm’s co-founder and until March a senior government official in Panama, said his firm has formed more than 240,000 companies, adding that the “vast majority” have been used for “legitimate purposes”.

The ICIJ report published on Sunday details billions of dollars of shadowy financial transactions moved through numerous offshore accounts.

Britain’s Guardian newspaper said the documents showed a network of secret offshore deals and loans worth $2 billion led to close friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Reuters couldn’t independently confirm those details.

Fonseca emphasized that the firm is not responsible for the activities of the companies it incorporates.

“We’re dedicated to making legal structures which we sell to intermediaries such as banks, lawyers, accountants and trusts, and they have their end-customers that we don’t know,” said Fonseca.

Read | Panama leak: 40 years of financial records, 11 main allegations

He said that all of the firm’s clients have been notified of “this problem,” arguing that the firm has been caught up in an international anti-privacy campaign.

“We believe there’s an international campaign against privacy. Privacy is a sacred human right (but) there are people in the world who do not understand that and we definitely believe in privacy and will continue working so that legal privacy can work,” he said.

The law firm said in a separate statement published by the Guardian: “It appears that you have had unauthorized access to proprietary documents and information taken from our company and have presented and interpreted them out of context.”

Panama’s government said in a statement on Sunday that it will cooperate with any eventual judicial proceeding relating to the allegations in the report.

Read | Panama papers: Massive leak of tax documents expose cine stars, leaders