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Police raid Mossack Fonseca’s offices over Panama leaks

Police cars is seen outside the Mossack-Fonseca law firm offices in Panama City during a raid on April 12, 2016. Police on Tuesday raided the headquarters of the Panamanian law firm whose leaked Panama Papers revealed how the world's wealthy and powerful used offshore companies to stash assets. / AFP PHOTO / Ed Grimaldo

Police cars is seen outside the Mossack-Fonseca law firm offices in Panama City during a raid on April 12, 2016.<br />Police on Tuesday raided the headquarters of the Panamanian law firm whose leaked Panama Papers revealed how the world’s wealthy and powerful used offshore companies to stash assets. / AFP PHOTO / Ed Grimaldo

The offices of the firm at the centre of the Panama Papers revelations were raided by police officers on Tuesday as investigators prepared to meet in Paris to launch an unprecedented inquiry into the global tax evasion.

According to a report, Panama’s attorney general ordered the raid on the Panamanian offices of Mossack Fonseca in an attempt to “establish the use of the firm for illicit activities”.

Police entered the company’s building under the command of the prosecutor Javier Caravallo, who specialises in organised crime and money laundering.

The raid came after the leak of Mossack Fonseca’s huge database provoked international concern about the offshore industry. It occurred on the eve of a meeting in Paris of senior officials from the world’s tax authorities, who are intent on analysing the documents as part of new global strategy to crack down on offenders.

The aggressive new approach is being led by the Joint International Tax Shelter Information and Collaboration (Jitsic) network, of which the United Kingdom (UK) is a leading member.

A spokesman for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) confirmed that it would be sending delegates to the Paris conference.
Jitsic’s chairman, Chris Jordan, has previously spoken of establishing a “global mindset for tackling tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance”.
Jordan, who is Australia’s tax commissioner, has established a reputation for his direct approach to multinational companies over their tax affairs.
The meeting in Paris will be chaired by the Australian tax office’s head of international tax, Mark Konza.

Meanwhile, Mossack Fonseca has denied any wrongdoing, saying it only set up offshore financial accounts and anonymous shell companies for clients and was not involved in how those accounts were used.

On Monday, intellectual property prosecutors visited Mossack Fonseca to investigate the firm’s claim that its computers were hacked before the leak.
“Finally the real criminals are being investigated,” Roman Fonseca, the firm’s founding partner, told Associated Press (AP). He has yet to comment on the attorney general’s raid.

The Panama-based firm is the world’s fourth biggest offshore law firm. It specialises in incorporating companies in offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands.



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