Global Money Launderers Breathe A Sigh Of Relief As Panama Papers Firm Founder Dies.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons. Panama City, a key junction in the Caribbean where North America and South America meet.
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Ramón Fonseca Mora, 71,the co-founder of the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers tax scandal has died after a period of ill health.

Born in Panama in 1952, Fonseca studied at the London School of Economics before becoming a successful novelist in the 1990s, twice winning Panama’s highest literary prize,according to the New York Times.

He later entered politics and served as to former Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela.

In 2019, Mossack and Fonseca launched an unsuccessful libel case against Netflix in response to its movie “The Laundromat,” based on the Panama Papers investigation. The pair argued that their depiction by Gary Oldman and Antonio Banderas was defamatory as it portrayed himself and his company as using nefarious means to help rich men and businesses to avoid paying taxes by using offshore accounts.

He was among nearly 30 people who went on trial last mont on charges linked to the so-called Panama Papers – a huge leak of secret financial documents in 2016.

Twenty-seven people including Fonseca and his partner in the law firm Mossack Fonseca, Jürgen Mossack, faced trial over their alleged role in setting up shell companies involved in the so-called “car wash” corruption scheme in Brazil, dubbed “Lavo Jato” in Portuguese, and a separate bribery scandal involving German company Siemens.

The leak exposed how some of the world’s richest and most powerful people hid their wealth.

Mr Fonseca’s niece confirmed his death on X (formerly Twitter).

“Rest in peace, dear uncle, you will always live in our hearts,” Carolina Fonseca wrote on Thursday.

Mr Fonseca had been charged with money-laundering linked to the leak alongside Jurgen Mossack, with whom he founded the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. Both denied the allegations.

It was from Mossack Fonseca that the Panama Papers were leaked.

Mr Fonseca and his co-accused had been awaiting a verdict in the trial and he could have faced up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.

He did not attend the court in Panama in April because he was in hospital, his lawyers said.

As well as working as a lawyer, Mr Fonseca had served as a minister in Panamanian former President Juan Carlos Varela’s government but stepped aside in 2016. He was also a novelist.

The Panama Papers – a collection of 11 million financial documents – implicated more than a hundred politicians, including then-heads of state and government, billionaires and sports stars.

They also highlighted how tax havens like Panama and the British Virgin Islands were used by the rich and powerful to allegedly hide their wealth and avoid tax.

The records were first leaked to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, and were shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in 2016.

Mossack Fonseca closed in 2018 – due in part, the firm said, to the financial and reputational damage the leak caused.

Sources: BBC, ICIJ.
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