Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca has had its headquarters raided by police following a data leak of more than 11 million documents which revealed how some wealthy people avoid tax using offshore law firms.
The firm, which claims it is the victim of a hack, was searched yesterday (12 April) by police along with officials from an organised crime unit. According to the BBC, officers set up a perimeter around the headquarters while prosecutors entered the offices to search for documents ‘without incidence or interference.’
A statement released by the attorney general’s office following the raid said the aim was ‘to obtain documentation linked to the information published in news articles that establish the use of the firm in illicit activities.’
The leak has revealed that some 12 world leaders, including close associates of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin, and 143 politicians have used the Panamanian law firm to avoid tax in developed countries.
In the UK, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has asked several law firms including LB100 firms Simmons & Simmons and Holman Fenwick Willan as well as London firm Child & Child to clarify whether they are linked to Mossack Fonseca.
An SRA spokesperson said earlier this week: ‘We are writing to those firms identified in the media as being linked to the Panama papers to ask for assurances that they have looked into the matter and have acted appropriately.’
He added: ‘We are also liaising with other authorities with an interest.’ It is understood the regulator has been in contact with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and other regulators about the leaks.
The news followed an announcement that the FCA had written to banks and other financial companies to carry out a similar review.
Read further analysis in the comment piece: ‘Shifting the Overton window – Panama Papers will change the consensus on tax (and boost corporate law firms)’