Panama Papers: Owners of Mossack Fonseca Arrested

The owners of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal, were arrested Thursday for their alleged connection to the Brazilian "Lava Jato" corruption case, media reported Friday.

panamapapers-projectThe Panama Papers are documents from Mossack Fonseca that were leaked last year (Photo: Sollok29, CC BY-SA 4.0)The law firm, which specializes in setting up offshore companies, acted as a "criminal organization" dedicated to hiding money from suspicious origins, Panama’s Attorney General Kenya Porcell said Thursday.

Porcell said evidence shows the law firm allegedly instructed its "person in charge" in Brazil to facilitate the transfer of bribe money to Panama and to "conceal documents and remove evidence" of those involved in "Lava Jato" — or Operation Car Wash — the massive corruption investigation centered on Brazil’s state-run oil company Petrobras.

The arrests of Jürgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca Mora are the result of a year-long investigation by prosecutors from Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, Switzerland and the United States, Porcell added.

As prosecutors conducted a surprise raid on the Mossack Fonseca offices Thursday, Fonseca told reporters that his firm has "no relationship" with any "Lava Jato" companies.

The Panama Papers are documents from Mossack Fonseca that were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) with the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP).

One of the biggest leaks in journalistic history, the documents reveal the secretive offshore companies used to hide wealth, evade taxes and commit fraud by the world’s dictators, business tycoons and criminals.