Spanish version

Mossack Fonseca lawyer responds to prosecutors

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Lawyers for Mossack Fonseca at a press conference this morning. Lawyers for Mossack Fonseca at a press conference this morning.
Lawyers for Mossack Fonseca at a press conference this morning. LA PRENSA/ Isaac Ortega

A defense lawyer for Jürgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca responded this morning to the indictments made by the Public Ministry, and requested that it release evidence that the founding partners of the firm Mossack Fonseca engaged in money laundering.

"In order for us to be able to make the right defense, it is necessary for the Public Prosecutor's Office to identify the money that went into the accounts," said attorney Guillermina McDonald.

A day earlier, the Office of the Second Prosecutor against Organized Crime reported finding evidence to prove the wrongdoing, saying money was transferred illegally from Brazil to two bank accounts linked to the defendants.

McDonald, however, said the money was the result of legitimate business practices.

"The accounts were opened to receive monies from fees, annuities or the sale of products that my representatives sold," she said. "It was an administrative account."

McDonald declined to identify the amount of money in those accounts.

"Let [the Public Prosecutor] say what the amounts were and what the wrongfulness consists of. I maintain with strong evidence that no illicit money has entered our clients' account," she said.

Prosecutor Romulo Bethancourt said that he could not disclose the total amount in the accounts, although he did say that one of them was opened in 2005 and "owned by the person working in Brazil", while the second was owned by the firm.

Maria Mercedes Riaño, in charge of the Mossack Fonseca office in Brazil, is also being investigated and is being held under orders from the Second Prosecutor against Organized Crime, as well as Mossack Fonseca lawyer Edison Teano.

McDonald emphasized that the Brazilian office was a franchise of the firm, and that Riaño was not be employed by it. She also said that she would not be surprised if Riaño reached a plea agreement with the Public Ministry.

The case began in January 2016 and is related to the Lava Jato operation. The law firm is accused of "concealing financial information" related to the movements of money between Brazil and other countries, including Panama.

Bethancourt reported that money was moved into accounts where the final beneficiaries were connected to the law firm.

He added that the banks involved are cooperating with investigators.

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