DOJ charges 4 with fraud in Panama Papers fallout, including a US accountant and a German banker

  • The US Department of Justice (DOJ) revealed Tuesday that four people had been charged with fraud and other crimes following an investigation into the Panama Papers released in 2016.
  • Those charged included an accountant, investment manager, a client, and a lawyer.
  • Three of the four have been arrested.

Over two years after the release of the Panama Papers revealed that a coterie of powerful people (including some politicians) had hired a Panamanian law firm to avoid personal and business taxes, the US Department of Justice has revealed an indictment against four individuals for charges that include wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, and other offenses.

Three of the four – Richard Gaffey of Massachusetts, Dirk Brauer of Germany, and Harald Joachim Von Der Goltz of Germany – have already been arrested. Ramses Owens of Panama is seemingly still at large.

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Gaffey of Medfield, Massachusetts (the lone American named) was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit tax evasion, one count of wire fraud, one count of money laundering conspiracy, and four counts of willful failure to file an FBAR (an IRS form required for high-value foreign accounts).

Brauer was reportedly an investment manager at Mossfon Asset Management, S.A., which the DOJ says worked closely with Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca.

Information about Von Der Goltz and Owens was not immediately available.

“Law firms, asset managers, and accountants play key roles enabling entry into the global financial system,” Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said in a statement. “The charges announced today demonstrate our commitment to prosecute professionals who facilitate financial crime across international borders and the tax cheats who utilise their services.”

According to the DOJ and the Panama Papers, the subjects of the suit used Mossack Fonseca to create a series of shell companies that were used to conceal their wealth and avoid taxes.

Owens and Brauer allegedly set up offshore accounts for clients of Mossack Fonseca to hide wealth.

Von Der Goltz was allegedly a client of Mossack Fonseca and reportedly used its services while living in the US and paying US taxes, making him vulnerable to the charges.

Gaffey, an accountant, allegedly helped connect Von Der Goltz and Owens, and assisted in connecting another client, called “client-1” in the DOJ release, to Mossack Fonseca.

The Panama Papers famously showed evidence that this strategy was used by leaders such as Iceland’s former prime minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.

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