Arrest Warrants Issued for Founders of Panama Papers Firm

German authorities are seeking the former heads of the company at the centre of 2016’s far-reaching financial scandal.

German authorities have issued international arrest warrants for the two founders of the firm at the centre of the tax scandal revealed in the 2016 Panama Papers data leak, according to German media.

The Süddeutsche Zeitung reported late on Monday that the public prosecutor’s office in Cologne had issued warrants for Jürgen Mossack (72) and his former partner Ramón Fonseca (68), co-founders of Mossack Fonseca. The two men, aged 72 and 68 respectively, are accused of aiding tax evasion and associating with criminals.

Both Mossack and Fonseca are currently living in Panama, which does not extradite passport-holding citizens. However, they will be arrested if they enter the European Union. The FBI are also reportedly investigating the pair.

The firm Mossack Fonseca, established in the 1980s, was closed in 2018 following the leak of over 11 million documents – thereafter referred to as the Panama Papers – to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, which worked with around 400 journalists from the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists to analyse the data before publishing their findings in April 2016.

Mosssack Fonseca was found to have facilitated elaborate networks of money laundering and tax evasion, enabling criminals to use shell companies to hide their assets. The scandal implicated hundreds of wealthy individuals and government officials across the world, revealing that they had hidden money offshore.

Iceland’s then-prime minister Sigmundur Gunnlaugsson was forced to resign after being implicated in the papers, as was Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister of Pakistan. At least 150 investigations have been opened in 79 countries to examine possible money laundering or tax evasion stemming from the papers’ revelations, according to the American Center for Public Integrity.

Though there is currently no pathway for Mossack and Fonseca to be extradited, investigators hope that Mossack, who is German-born and has family in the country, may surrender to officials on the chance of a reduced sentence and escape from US charges.

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