Law enforcement in Panama raided the offices of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of the “Panama Papers” leak. Authorities were looking for evidence of money laundering and financing terrorism. A half dozen police officers set up a perimeter around the offices while prosecutors searched inside for documents. Shortly after news reports based on a trove of documents from the firm began emerging more than a week ago, Panama’s government had said it would investigate.
Last week, the National Customs and Tax Administration created a team to verify whether any tax evasion cases it had been investigating in the past year, correlate with companies and individuals mentioned in the Panama Papers. Global repercussions are still reverberating from the leaked documents that allege that the law firm helped establish secret shell companies and offshore accounts for global power players. This is the biggest leak in history — one that dwarfs the amount of data released by WikiLeaks in 2010. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) coordinated with almost 400 journalists to go through the files.
Fallout from the revelations has cost Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson his job. It has put UK Prime Minister David Cameron under pressure as his late father, according to the ICIJ, used the services of the Mossack Fonseca law firm to avoid having his investment fund pay any UK taxes. Cameron published his tax return information for the last six years, in the aftermath of the Panama Papers.
Allegations have also surrounded associates of Vladimir Putin (although the Russian leader isn’t mentioned by name in any of the documents); FIFA; Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri; relatives of multiple Chinese officials, including three members of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, the most powerful group in the ruling Communist Party; Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko; three of Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and others. Mossack Fonseca has more than 40 offices worldwide, including several in mainland China.