Panama Papers: Court acquits all 28 charged with money laundering

Image source, MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP via Getty Images

Image caption, Jurgen Mossack was one of the main defendants in the Panama Papers case
  • Author, Anna Lamche
  • Role, BBC News
  • 6 hours ago

A Panamanian court has acquitted all 28 people charged with money laundering in connection with the Panama Papers scandal, concluding a trial that began in April.

The secret financial documents were leaked in 2016, revealing how some of the world’s richest and most powerful people use tax havens to hide their wealth.

Among those exonerated were Jurgen Mossack and the late Ramon Fonseca, founder of Mossack Fonseca, the defunct law firm at the centre of the scandal.

Judge Baloisa Marquinez said the evidence considered by the court was “not sufficient” to determine the criminal responsibility of the defendants.

During the trial, the prosecution sought the maximum sentence of 12 years for money laundering for both Mr Mossack and Mr Fonseca, who died in hospital in May.

Both Mr Mossack and Mr Fonseca denied they, their firm or their employees had acted illegally.

The trial, which took place in Panama City, lasted 85 hours, took testimony from 27 witnesses and considered over 50 pieces of documentary evidence, according to local news reports.

After an extended period of deliberation, the judge said evidence collected from Mossack Fonseca’s servers had not been gathered in line with due process and dropped all criminal charges against the defendants.

The biggest data leak in history, the Panama Papers, saw 11 million documents released to the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung and shared with an international team of journalists.

In 2017, Mossack Fonseca said the firm had been the victim of a computer hack and that the information leaked was being misrepresented.

In total the data revealed links to 12 current or former heads of state and government, including dictators accused of embezzling money from their own countries.

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