Spanish version

LAVA JATO

Lawyer: Mossfon Trust was created to avoid taxes

The testimony was given by the law firm's director of its Brazil office.

Spanish version

Temas:

María Mercedes Riaño, the representative of Mossack Fonseca in Brazil. María Mercedes Riaño, the representative of Mossack Fonseca in Brazil.
María Mercedes Riaño, the representative of Mossack Fonseca in Brazil. LA PRENSA/Archivo

Attorney María Mercedes Riaño, who is being investigated for money laundering by the Public Prosecutor's Office, said that Mossfon Trust, a subsidiary of the law firm Mossack Fonseca (MF), was used for tax evasion.

Riaño, who ran the firm's office in Brazil, made that statement Feb. 15 to prosecutors investigating the firm. That testimony was released to the public yesterday.

Riaño said that the firm specifically sold companies to clients from jurisdictions that "were off the blacklist of the OECD," which according to Riaño, were used as intermediaries to raise funds from clients and then" transferred to accounts of traditional companies that came from blacklisted jurisdictions."

The OECD, or Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development, has often targeted jurisdictions such as Panama. It has been widely criticized for its failure to evenly apply rules, and MF apparently took advantage of this.

Brazilian investigators are looking into MF's practices in that country as part of the Lava Jato operation. That investigation has uncovered bribes that were paid to state officials in exchange for contracts. MF is accused of helping to facilitate those payments.

In her testimony, Riaño said that the firm "knew who the final beneficiaries of the bank accounts were and where the money came from."

This testimony contradicts the public statements by the firm, in which it insisted that it never knew what its companies were used for.

But Riaño said that not only did the company know, it also actively sought to create "the most sophisticated tax structures for tax evasion."

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