Panama Papers Name Americans Accused of Fraud

Seems Mossack Fonseca failed to vet its clients
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 9, 2016 7:00 PM CDT
Panama Papers Name Americans Accused of Fraud
An activist displays a newspaper headlining on f the 'Panama Papers' revelations during a banking managers meeting, in Paris, France, Thursday, April 14, 2016.    (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

The Panama Papers database went online Monday and revealed the names of over 360,000 people and companies involved in offshore companies—including 36 Americans accused of financial wrongdoing, USA Today reports. Among them is Leonard Gotshalk, a former Atlanta Falcons offensive tackle who was accused in 2010 by federal prosecutors of using kickbacks to boost tech-company stock prices. Three days later, the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca received a $3,055 wire transfer from Gotshalk to pay for an offshore company. Per the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, it's a case of the firm failing to vet unscrupulous clients. Similar clients include a Connecticut financier who had pleaded guilty to wire fraud and six Americans accused of running a $100 million Ponzi scheme.

Seems Mossack Fonseca ran a high-volume business that didn't spend time scrutinizing clients. The law firm incorporated over 100,000 offshore entities between 2005 and 2015, handing over client-vetting responsibility to law firms and banks that brought in business. Firm co-founder Ramón Fonseca has told the AP that "as a policy we prefer not to have American clients"; he didn't say why, but the papers suggest a desire to duck US authorities. The firm rarely accepted US clients in order to "avoid further attempts by American authorities to attack the Partnership," wrote a US-based rep for the firm in a 2014 email. "American clients were purged, no more have been sought, no marketing in the US takes place." (The mysterious Panama Papers source has finally spoken out.)

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