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Panamanian Police Have Raided the Headquarters of Mossack Fonseca

The law firm has come under intense scrutiny since the Panama Papers leak. Founding partner Ramon Fonseca says it has broken no laws, destroyed no documents, and all its operations are legal.
Un oficial de policía hace guardia frente a la sede de Mossack Fonseca el 12 de abril de 2016. Imagen por Alejandro Bolívar/EPA

Panama's attorney general raided the offices of the Mossack Fonseca law firm late on Tuesday to search for any evidence of illegal activities, authorities said in a statement.

The firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal has been accused of tax evasion and fraud. The national police, in an earlier statement, said they were searching for documentation that "would establish the possible use of the firm for illicit activities."


Police offers and patrol cars began gathering around the company's building in the afternoon under the command of prosecutor Javier Caravallo, who specializes in organized crime and money laundering. Searches will also take place at subsidiaries of the firm.

The firm's offices in El Salvador were also raided by authorities last Friday.

Mossack Fonseca, which specializes in setting up offshore companies, did not respond to requests for comment on Tuesday. The company has come under intense scrutiny since the biggest data leak in history revealed how the global elite used its services for complicated financial arrangements which included hiding assets and avoiding tax.

Related: The VICE News Guide to the Panama Papers

Founding partner Ramon Fonseca says the company has broken no laws, destroyed no documents, and all its operations are legal.

The 11.5 million leaked documents spanned four decades and included details of the finances of many prominent figures, including the leaders of Iceland and Ukraine, friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and relatives of the prime ministers of Britain, Pakistan, and China's President Xi Jinping.

They were leaked more than a year ago, with news reports first emerging just over a week ago. Panama's government promised an investigation soon after.

Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela has said his country will cooperate with investigations into the case but he will not allow it to be drawn in for criticism. "This government has done more for financial transparency in this country in 21 months than has ever been done in the country's history," he said last week.

Related: How the Panama Papers Exposed Secrecy in the Art Market