Panama Papers fallout: DOJ charges four with fraud

The building where Mossack Fonseca law firm offices are located in Panama City. The US government announced charges Tuesday against four men it said laundered money and arranged tax avoidance schemes through the Panama firm at the center of the “Panama

Panama Papers investigation: four men criminally charged in US

Justice officials said the four were involved in a "decades-long criminal scheme perpetrated by Mossack Fonseca".

Three of the four have been arrested, the USA said.

Prosecutors said Brauer was arrested in Paris on November 15, Van Der Goltz was arrested in London on Monday, and Gaffey was arrested in Boston Tuesday.

Owens and Brauer are accused of establishing and managing "opaque offshore trusts and undeclared bank accounts" on behalf of American taxpayer clients of Mossack Fonseca, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of NY said in announcing the charges.

Owens remains at large, according to the justice department. Reports from earlier this year indicate Mossack Fonesca announced it would close in March 2018.

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The most serious charges in the case, which include wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy, carry a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Mossack Fonseca's operation was exposed in 2016 by reporters coordinated by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which went through 11.5 million leaked files to discover that scores of world leaders, sports and entertainment stars and dozens of billionaires used the firm to hide their wealth.

Von Der Goltz, a German citizen who was allegedly one of the firm's American-based clients, is accused of using shell companies to hide tens of millions of dollars from the IRS, and falsely claiming his Guatemalan mother was the true owner of his offshore holdings. Owens, 50, is a citizen of Panama and Brauer, 54, is German citizen, prosecutors said.

Federal prosecutors in NY charged an account manager linked to Mossack Fonseca, a lawyer, a client and his accountant of tax fraud, money laundering and other offenses, stemming from their use of offshore accounts to shuffle and hide millions of dollars.

According to the indictment, Owens and Brauer opened offshore trusts and undeclared bank accounts in Panama, Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands - countries with stringent bank privacy regulations - for American clients of Mossack Fonseca.

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US-based accountant Richard Gaffey, 74, was detained in MA on Tuesday.

Owens and Brauer also allegedly showed their clients how to use debit cards and fake purchases to repatriate funds to the United States without revealing the secret accounts.

Geoffrey S. Berman, the US Attorney for the Southern District of NY, said Tuesday that the defendants "went to extraordinary lengths to circumvent US tax laws in order to maintain their wealth and the wealth of their clients".

Gaffey also worked with Owens to help another, unnamed client deceive the IRS by establishing offshore accounts to hold about $4 million.

Last Thursday, German prosecutors raided Deutsche bank offices in Frankfurt in an probe of money laundering and tax evasion also linked to the revelations of the Panama Papers expose.

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