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Panama Papers Investigation Results In First US Prosecution – 4 Men Charged

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Last week, Deutsche Bank was raided on money laundering charges that were a result of a Panama Papers probe.  On Tuesday, an 11-count indictment was unsealed in New York that was also tied to the Panama Papers investigation and charges of conspiracy and tax fraud against four men, which is the first US prosecution that has resulted from the investigation into the Panama Papers.

According to federal prosecutors, the charges come from what they reference as an “intercontinental money laundering scheme” involving a global law firm based in Panama.

Fox News reports:

Two Germans, one American and one Panamanian citizen were charged with conspiracy and other counts. It was not immediately clear whether they had defense attorneys.

The Panama Papers include a collection of 11 million secret financial documents that illustrated how some of the world’s richest people hide their money. The records were first leaked to the Suddeutsche Zeitung, a major German newspaper, and were shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which began publishing collaborative reports with news organizations in 2016.

Federal prosecutors say the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca conspired to circumvent U.S. laws to maintain the wealth of its clients and conceal tax dollars owed to the IRS. They say the scheme dates to 2000 and involved sham foundations and shell companies in Panama, Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands.

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said the defendants “shuffled millions of dollars through off-shore accounts” and had “a playbook to repatriate un-taxed money into the U.S. banking system.”

“Now their international tax scheme is over,” Berman said in a statement, “and these defendants face years in prison for their crimes.”

The Huffington Post listed the names of the men.

The four men charged are Ramses Owens, 50; Dirk Brauer, 54, a German citizen who worked for an asset management company linked to Mossack Fonseca; German citizen and former U.S. taxpayer Harald Joachim Von Der Goltz, 81; and Richard Gaffey, 74, a U.S.-based accountant.

Three of the men have been arrested while Owens, a Panamanian attorney who worked for Mossack Fonseca, remains at large.

An attorney for Von Der Goltz told The Associated Press that the indictment is “a desperate attempt to salvage an American case out of the Panama Papers” and said his client will be vindicated at trial. Messages to an attorney for Gaffey weren’t immediately returned and it was unclear whether the other two men had attorneys, the AP reported.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a press release, “As alleged, these defendants went to extraordinary lengths to circumvent U.S. tax laws in order to maintain their wealth and the wealth of their clients.”

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He said the four allegedly “shuffled millions of dollars through offshore accounts and created shell companies to hide fortunes.”

In any case, the BBC broke down the charges each man is facing.

Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation chief Don Fort said his team was unravelling intricate schemes that moved money around the globe and that “more investigations are on the way”.

Prosecutors allege Mr Owens and Mr Brauer created and ran sham foundations and shell companies to conceal assets.

Mr von der Goltz was at the time a US resident and a client of Mossack Fonseca. He is accused of evading US tax obligations through a scheme of shell companies.

Mr Gaffey is accused of assisting in the scheme and, along with Mr Owens, helping another client, named only as Client 1, to defraud the Internal Revenue Service.

The Panama Papers were possibly the biggest document leak ever and barely got any coverage in the mainstream media.  The Washington Standard reported on them as possibly being able to end Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign, but that didn’t happen.

In case you haven’t heard about them over the roar of mainstream media’s ‘round-the-clock anti-Trump coverage, it’s being referred to as the biggest data leak in history. For the last year, 400 journalists have been secretly decoding 11.5 million documents leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The 2.6 terabytes of data show billions of dollars worth of transactions dating back 40 years.

Acquired from an anonymous source by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and then shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, the documents present a jaw-dropping paper trail of how the upper echelon of the 1 percent has used shell companies and offshore tax havens to avoid paying billions of dollars in taxes. In less than a week of exposure, the Panama Papers have already implicated 140 world leaders from 50 different countries. Top executives and celebrities who appear in the leaked emails, PDFs, and other documents may also be indicted in money laundering, tax evasion, and sanctions-busting activities.

Though the source of the leak opted not to do a Wikileaks-style data dump and is instead allowing media outlets to curate the information, international tax reform could be imminent.

Both Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton paved the way for and promoted the Panama-United States Trade Promotion Agreement, which Congress ratified in 2012, and which helped to facilitate the transgressions outlined in the Panama Papers.

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Once the documents were leaked, Iceland’s Prime Minister resigned after it was revealed his family had used a shell company to hold millions of dollars worth of bonds in a collapsed bank. After an interview in which Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson had a meltdown when asked about the company’s assets, over 20,000 citizens of Iceland protested.

The Panama Papers also has its trail of dead bodies, journalists who exposed the politicians in European governments.

In October 2018, I reported on female investigative journalist and television reporter Viktoria Marinova, who uncovered numerous European Union (EU) funds fraud cases was found brutally raped and murdered in northern Bulgaria.

At that time, she was the third reporter to be killed in the past 12 months in the EU.

Previously, Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who exposed the Maltese prime minister’s offshore dealings in the Panama Papers scandal, died in a car bomb attack last October and in February Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak, who was known for his reports on tax fraud and shady dealings of Slovakia’s elite, was shot dead.  Police did not rule out that the murder was related “to his investigative activity.”

Here’s more background on the Panama Papers.

Article posted with permission from Freedom Outpost

 

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