Police raid El Salvador branch of 'Panama Papers' law firm

Mossack Fonseca which is at centre of 'Panama Papers' scandal has its offices raided by authorities in El Salvador

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

View of the building where the Mossack Fonseca offices are located during a police raid in San Salvador on April 8, 2016.

Updated Apr 9, 2016

Police on Friday raided the El Salvador offices of the Panama-based law firm at the heart of the "Panama Papers" scandal that has revealed how the wealthy in many countries stashed their riches offshore.

The swoop on the San Salvador offices of Mossack Fonseca netted "a good amount of computer equipment," El Salvador's state prosecutor's office said on its Twitter account.

No arrests were made.

The authorities in El Salvador on Wednesday had announced a probe into whether the Salvadorans identified in the Panama Papers reports had broken any laws. Reports said some 33 Salvadorans were named.

The state prosecutor, Douglas Melendez, visited the law firm's premises on Friday. 

He told reporters that around 20 computers and a quantity of documents were confiscated, and seven employees questioned but not detained.

Salvadorean Prosecutor General Douglas Melendez speaks to the press as the Mossack Fonseca offices are raided by the police in San Salvador on April 8, 2016. (AFP)

The authorities decided to conduct the raid when they observed staff removing the law firm's sign from outside the building, he said.

"We are going to carry out a complete investigation in compliance with the law," Melendez added.

He called on Salvadoran law firms that did business with Mossack Fonseca to come forward to speak with prosecutors.

The offshore companies of Mossack Fonseca's Salvadoran clients were used for transactions of hundreds of thousands of dollars, including to buy property in El Salvador "all under the radar of local authorities," El Faro, an online newspaper, reported.

The papers, which included more than 11.5 million documents from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, were leaked to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung. They then became part of a broader investigation coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

Governments across the world have begun investigating possible financial wrongdoing by the rich and powerful after the leak of more than 11.5 million documents from 1977 until last December, dubbed the "Panama Papers," from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

According to the documents, 140 political figures - including 12 current or former heads of state - are involved in the alleged network. The leak constitutes 2.6 terrabytes of data.

The papers have revealed financial arrangements of prominent figures - including friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of the prime ministers of Britain and Pakistan, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko as well as Football star Lionel Messi and Former UEFA director Gianni Infantino, leading to one of the world’s largest fraud and corruption investigations.



TRTWorld, Reuters