Earlier this month, the law firm Mossack Fonseca became the center of global attention after leaked documents revealed its clients—including political and business leaders—were evading taxes and hiding ill-gotten money through offshore accounts. This week authorities in two nations, Panama and Peru, have conducted raids against the firm, which has offices in dozens of countries.
In Panama City yesterday (April 12), police and organized crime prosecutors raided the firm’s headquarters ”without incident or interference.” A statement from the attorney general’s office indicated that the raid’s goal was “to obtain documentation linked to the information published in news articles that establish the use of the firm in illicit activities.” It added that firm’s subsidiary offices will also be searched.
Meanwhile in Peru on Monday (April 11), tax authorities seized accounting documents belonging to Monica Ycaza Clerc, a local representative for the firm, after raiding her home. Officials said the action was done “to thoroughly investigate her and also to check for possible connections that she would have with the ‘Panama Papers’ case and with Peruvian taxpayers.”
The law firm’s documents were obtained by an anonymous source who contacted German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, which worked with other papers and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to go through the data. They implicate 12 current or former heads of state (and over 60 people linked to them), at least eight top Chinese officials, and some of Bollywood’s most famous stars, for starters.
The 11 million or so confidential documents leaked in that case have focused attention on how offshore havens allow corruption and tax avoidance to take place on a massive international scale. This week’s raids—and more to follow elsewhere, possibly—could uncover yet more evidence of questionable behavior by the firm and its clients, adding fuel to fire after what is widely considered the biggest leak in history.