Panama Papers: Four charged in USA with fraud and tax evasion

Panama Papers investigation: four men criminally charged in US

Panama Papers investigation: four men criminally charged in US

The data leak included copies of about 200 American passports, and some 3,500 shareholders in the offshore companies listed addresses in the USA - a small fraction of the more than 250,000 companies Mossack Fonseca set up for clients in four decades of business.

Gaffey was the only American among the four charged in a decades-long scheme to defraud the United States by stashing millions of dollars in offshore shell-companies and bank accounts.

Three of the four people have already been arrested, prosecutors said, in the first criminal case brought by USA authorities in connection with Mossack Fonseca & Co, the Panamanian law firm at the center of the leak.

Brauer, 54, was arrested in Paris last month and Gaffey, 74, was arrested in MA on Tuesday.

Von Der Goltz, an 81-year-old German citizen, was arrested in London on Monday, according to prosecutors, who thanked British authorities for their assistance in the case.

Owens is a Panamanian attorney who worked for Mossack Fonseca. Reports from earlier this year indicate Mossack Fonesca announced it would close in March 2018.

Wire fraud can carry a jail term of 20 years.

The information was obtained by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.

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Federal prosecutors in NY charged an account manager linked to Mossack Fonseca, a lawyer, a client and his accountant of tax fraud, money laundering and other offenses, stemming from their use of offshore accounts to shuffle and hide millions of dollars.

Among those charged was Ramses Owens, a partner at the now-defunct firm who the USA said helped create, market and service shell companies for the firm's wealthy clients.

One former client, now dead, helped authorities in their investigation by recording calls with Owens and introducing him to an undercover agent, the indictment reveals.

Gaffey is accused of assisting Von Der Goltz's scheme and advising another American taxpayer, who is identified in Tuesday's filings only as "Client 1".

U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said the defendants "shuffled millions of dollars through off-shore accounts" and had "a playbook to repatriate un-taxed money into the U.S. banking system".

Gaffey and Owens are accused of falsely claiming that Von Der Goltz's elderly mother was the sole beneficiary of the accounts because she lived in Guatemala and therefore was not a US taxpayer. They also allegedly told their American clients how to recover their funds without revealing the existence of the accounts, including by using debit cards and "fictitious sales".

A review of the documents also prompted German authorities to raid the offices of Deutsche Bank AG and its board members as part of a money laundering investigation last week.

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