Tuesday, 09 April 2024 12:23

Panama Papers money-laundering trial begins Featured

The trial of 27 people charged in connection with the Panama Papers money laundering scandal has started in a Panamanian criminal court.

The leak of secret financial documents in 2016 revealed how some of the world's wealthiest people stashed their assets in offshore companies.

The defendants include Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca Mora who founded the now defunct law firm, Mossack Fonseca.

They face money-laundering charges but say neither they, the firm nor its employees were involved in unlawful acts. In 2017, the firm said it was the victim of a computer hack and that the information leaked was being misrepresented.

If found guilty, Mr Mossack and Mr Fonseca could face up to twelve years each in prison.

The leak, which included a collection of 11 million financial documents, implicated more than a hundred politicians, including then-heads of state and government, billionaires and sports stars.

It also highlighted how tax havens like Panama and the British Virgin Islands were used by the rich and powerful to allegedly hide their wealth and avoid tax.

The records were first leaked to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, and were shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in 2016.

Mr Mossack was present in the courtroom, while lawyers for Mr Fonseca said he was in a hospital in Panama.

Mr Fonseca had served as a minister in Panamanian former President Juan Carlos Varela's government but stepped aside in 2016.

Mossack Fonseca was shut down in 2018.

Mariko Oi,Business reporter

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