Criminal Justice

Panama Papers leak that shuttered law firm leads to US indictment of lawyer, three others

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A Massachusetts accountant and a Panamanian lawyer are among four people charged in a federal indictment stemming from the so-called Panama Papers leak of hacked legal documents.

Prosecutors claim the hacked law firm, Panama-based Mossack Fonseca, participated in a decadeslong scheme to circumvent U.S. tax laws by shuffling money through offshore accounts and shell companies. Mossack Fonseca shut down in March, citing “irreversible damage” from the April 2016 leak.

The indictment was unsealed on Tuesday, according to a Department of Justice press release. Among those charged are Mossack Fonseca lawyer Ramses Owens, who remains at large, and accountant Richard Gaffey of Medford, Massachusetts, who was arrested on Tuesday. Courthouse News Service, the New York Times, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, the McClatchy D.C. Bureau and USA Today have coverage.

Also charged are a German investment adviser and a German citizen formerly living in the United States who allegedly avoided U.S. taxes by claiming assets were owned by his mother.

The defendants were charged with wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering and other offenses.

Prosecutors say Owens and the German investment adviser created and marketed sham foundations and shell companies to conceal from the IRS ownership of accounts at overseas banks, as well as the income generated. Gaffey is accused of aiding alleged U.S. tax dodges by the German citizen and another client identified as “Client-1.”

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