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9 May, 2024 15:51

‘Panama Papers’ law firm boss dies

The ex-partner of Mossack Fonseca was 71 and had been on trial for money laundering
‘Panama Papers’ law firm boss dies

Panamanian banker Ramon Fonseca, a senior partner of the now-defunct law firm whose records were leaked in the Panama Papers scandal that exposed a global elite benefitting from offshore accounts, has died, his lawyer told the media on Thursday. He was 71 years old. 

Over 11 million documents stolen from the firm Mossack Fonseca provided the basis for a series of international investigations in April 2016, embarrassing some 130,000 people in 170 countries. While Fonseca and his business partner Jurgen Mossack maintained their business was legitimate, the firm shuttered in 2018 due to “irreparable damage” to its reputation. 

Former president of Panama Ricardo Martinelli called his classmate Fonseca “a great human being, lawyer, writer and politician.” Martinelli also claimed his successor Juan Carlos Varela was behind the “atrocious persecution” of Fonseca.

Fonseca died at a Panama City hospital. The details of his medical condition were not made public, but the condition was serious enough that he could not attend the trial, a member of his legal team told AFP. 

Panamanian prosecutors charged Mossack and Fonseca with “concealing, covering up and providing false information to banks for the opening of accounts and concealing ownership of assets” as well as sending and receiving funds “from illicit activities in Germany and Argentina.” 

Two dozen other former employees of the firm faced charges as well. Mossack and Fonseca maintained their innocence. The trial ended on April 19, with prosecutors demanding 12 years in prison for both.

The Panama Papers scandal affected 20 Forbes List billionaires, several Hollywood stars and famous athletes, 150 politicians and a dozen national leaders.

Icelandic Prime Minister David Gunnlaugsson Sigmundur resigned after the documents showed his wife secretly owned offshore companies. The British prime minister at the time, David Cameron – whose father founded several offshore companies – refused to resign, saying he had sold his shares before becoming prime minister.

Among the other names in the document trove were actors Jackie Chan and Emma Watson, film director Pedro Almodovar, ex-UEFA President Michel Platini, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, King Salman bin Abdulaziz of Saudi Arabia, as well as presidents of Ukraine and Argentina at the time, Pyotr Poroshenko and Mauricio Macri.