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María Mercedes Riaño reveals secrets of Mossack Fonseca

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María Mercedes Riaño.  María Mercedes Riaño.
María Mercedes Riaño. LA PRENSA/Archivo

Maria Mercedes Riaño, who is being investigated for money laundering in the case involving the law firm Mossack Fonseca (MF), has told prosecutors details about the firm's operations that included shielding bribes paid to Brazilian politicians in exchange for contracts from state-owned oil company Petrobras.

In the investigation carried out Feb. 15, Riaño, the former manager of the firm's Brazil office, told prosecutors that lawyer Humberto Urroz was in charge of Evolusof, a section of the firm, and that he followed directions from Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca.

"They were in control of the total operation, negotiating prices with customers and making decisions," Riaño said.

The lawyer, who is detained while being investigated in this case, said she never acted as a lawyer for the Brazil office.

"I never practiced as a lawyer in this law firm, nor did I sign any documents from this office. I was just a sales promoter, as they called me," she said.

She added that Sara Montenegro was in charge of Mossack Fonseca's legal affairs and handled matters related to the firm's senior members.

"She was the person who went out to defend the firm in every international scandal. She had a very important role because she did not perform common procedures. She was the chief lawyer and a trustworthy staff member Mossack and Fonseca," Riaña said.

She also said the law firm sought to move funds through shell companies in jurisdictions such as Holland, New Zealand and Chile, since they were not on any blacklist by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In addition to Riaño, authorities have also detained Mossack, Fonseca and Edison Teano in this case.

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