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Mossack Fonseca offices raided

The raid was carried out by a number of agencies, including the Superintendency of Securities.

Spanish version

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Allanamiento en Mossack Fonseca Allanamiento en Mossack Fonseca

Allanamiento en Mossack Fonseca Foto por: LA PRENSA/ Ana Rentería

Las oficinas de Mossack Fonseca están ubicadas en Marbella, en la ciudad capital. Las oficinas de Mossack Fonseca están ubicadas en Marbella, en la ciudad capital.

Las oficinas de Mossack Fonseca están ubicadas en Marbella, en la ciudad capital. Foto por: LA PRENSA/Ana Rentería

Allanamiento en Mossack Fonseca Allanamiento en Mossack Fonseca

Allanamiento en Mossack Fonseca Foto por: LA PRENSA/ Ana Rentería

The Public Ministry yesterday conducted a raid of Mossack Fonseca offices that lasted more than 11 hours in search of information on the possible use of offshore companies to "disguise or promote illegal activities" by clients.

The raid came a week after the activities of the firm were revealed in a global investigation that accused it of a number of alleged irregular practices in the use of offshore companies.

Monday, the Superintendency of Securities began a special inspection Mossfon Asset Management, the financial company that is part of the MF conglomerate.

La Prensa reported Wednesday that senior members of the firm discussed how to help a client, H.J. von der Goltz, a Guatemalan residing in the United States (US), avoid his obligations to the U.S. Treasury.

The Second Prosecutor's Office Against Organized Crime and the Special Unit on Offenses Against Money Laundering and the Financing of Terrorism carried out the raid, which started at 3 p.m. Tuesday and which ended past 2 a.m. today. It was directed by Prosecutor Javier Caraballo, who was accompanied by staff of the forensic computer science department of the Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences and financial analysts of the Department of Judicial investigation (DIJ).

When the raid began, police officers stood guard outside the firm's offices, on 54th Street in Marbella. The action was meant to "obtain or copy all the physical or electronic documentation" related to the investigation, according to a search warrant signed by the prosecutor.

"This process seeks to determine" the potential use of the firm to disguise or promote "illegal activities," it said.

The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and 109 other media partners have published information on the participation of offshore companies created by Mossack Fonseca that allegedly participated in irregular activities.

The raid included all three floors of the building where the law firm has its offices. At 6:40 p.m., 50 or so employees of the firm were allowed to leave the building. Shortly past 7 p.m., the Public Prosecutor's Office issued a statement which reported that another raid was "taking place simultaneously at the company that provides computer support" to the firm.

At 10 p.m., the Prosecutor's Office sent additional staff to relieve those who had started the raid.

Meanwhile, the Superintendency of Securities said that its investigation will be held to determine that Mossack Asset Management (MAMSA) complied with all required due diligence for its clients. It will use auditors to validate this information.

The Superintendency said it decided to initiate an audit to determine if MAMSA took the proper steps to verify the source of funds it handled and that it knew the beneficial owners of the companies that had accounts with it.

MF is one of the most important law firms in the country, specializing in the creation of local corporations and offshore corporations. In addition, it operates an investment consulting company and a trust company that is focused on the establishment of structures for the protection of the assets of their clients.

The trust company is regulated by the Superintendency of Banks of Panama. The Superintendency of Securities is responsible for ensuring that MAMSA carried out the proper due diligence on its customers. "This is one of the topics that will be verified," said a source with knowledge of the investigation.

Meanwhile, in a statement, the firm said that it will cooperate with the authorities.

"In this case, the only crime committed was against us. Our system was illegally breached by personnel outside the company," said the law firm in the press release.

Tax authorities from Peru raided the offices of the firm in that country on Monday, and the same thing happened in El Salvador. Yesterday, Ecuadorian tax authorities carried out a similar raid in that country.

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