The Panama Papers begin to take their toll

The Panama Papers begin to take their toll
  • moneycontrol.com

This Tuesday the Panama Papers case revived from the US Justice Department, which through an official statement announced charges against four people related to this investigation, these being the first prosecutions of people involved in this investigation related to international money laundering.

Ramses Owens (Panamanian), Dirk Brauer (North American), Richard Gaffey and Harald von der Goltz (Germans) are the names mentioned in the case that will be brought in the court of the Southern District of New York, charged with wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, and other offenses related to their roles in the Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca, company from which such crimes would have been committed.

"Law firms, asset managers and accountants play key roles enabling entry into the global financial system," Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said in a statement.

"The charges announced today demonstrate our commitment to prosecute professionals who facilitate financial crimes across international borders and the tax cheats who utilize their services," he added.

This firm was responsible for creating "off shore" companies, with the purpose of tax evasion or hiding illicit money, activities in which these four citizens would be involved and in fact, only one of them, Ramses Owens, remains at large. Brauer (54 years old) was imprisoned in Paris on November 15, Von Der Goltz (81 years old) in London on December 3 and Gaffey (74 years old) in Massachusetts last Tuesday.

Initially Owens and Brauer are accused of having managed laundry and evasion between 2000 and 2017, when they took several of their clients to hide their income from the Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS -CI). Von Der Goltz evaded his own accounts under the indication of Gaffey, Owens and Brauer, placing his mother as the sole owner of each fictitious company, so since she’s not a resident or taxpayer, is outside certain regulations.

Faced with the accusations received, those involved could add more than 50 years in prison: 20 for conspiracy to commit electronic fraud; 5 for conspiracy for tax evasion, 20 for electronic fraud, 20 for money laundering conspiracy, 10 for intentional failure to file a Foreign Bank Report and FBAR Financial Accounts and 5 years for false statements.

The IRS-CI, the Complex Fraud and Cybercrime Unit of the Office, the Transnational Criminal Companies Unit, together with the Asset Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Criminal Division, in charge of presenting the evidence and procedures to the court in charge of the case, currently handle this case.

This procedure in the Federal Court of Manhattan will be in charge of two groups, the first consisting of Sarah E. Paul, Thane Rehn, Kristy Greenberg and Andrew Adams (deputy lawyers), completed by Michael Parker and Parker Tobin (Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section).

Leaked in 2015, the Panama Papers represented millions of documents detailing financial and attorney-client information on offshore holdings or in tax havens that defrauded the US and other countries.

Named in the leak were 12 current or former world leaders, 128 politicians and public officials, and hundreds of celebrities, businessmen and other wealthy people from more than 200 countries.

The Panama Papers were the culmination of a year-long investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and more than a hundred news organizations.

Late last month, Deutsche Bank's head office and other locations in Frankfurt, Germany, were registered as part of the Panama Papers investigation, as it is suspected that the German bank helped Mossak Fonseca's clients set up the offshore holdings.


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