Panamanian court acquits 28 defendants in ‘Panama Papers’ trial

“The rest of the evidence was not sufficient and conclusive to determine the criminal responsibility of the defendants”

(The Malaysian Reserve) – A Panamanian court has acquitted 28 people charged with money laundering in connection with the now-defunct law firm Mossack Fonseca, the epicenter of the “Panama Papers” international tax evasion scandal.

Among those acquitted on Friday were the firm’s founders, Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, the latter of whom died in May in a Panamanian hospital.

During the trial, which was held in the Central American country’s capital in April, the prosecution asked for 12 years in prison for the duo, the maximum sentence for money laundering.

The judge also ruled that “the rest of the evidence was not sufficient and conclusive to determine the criminal responsibility of the defendants,” the court statement said.

Leaked documents from Mossack Fonseca in 2016 revealed how many of the world’s wealthy stashed assets in offshore companies, triggering scores of investigations around the globe.

Those implicated included former British premier David Cameron, Russian President Vladimir Putin, football star Lionel Messi, Argentina’s then-president Mauricio Macri and Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, to name but a few.

– ‘Justice has been done’ –

Panamanian prosecutors had alleged that Mossack and Fonseca helped create opaque companies in which executives of the German multinational Siemens deposited millions of euros outside the company’s official accounts.

They were also charged with helping divert money from a massive fraud in Argentina.

“Justice has been done, we are extremely satisfied with the ruling handed down by the judge,” Guillermina McDonald, lawyer for Mossack and other defendants, told AFP.

However, “we are a little sad because along the way we lost Mr. Ramon Fonseca, and he has not been able to see this result,” she added.

The trial began eight years after the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) began publishing the “Panama Papers” on April 3, 2016.

The investigation, based on 11.5 million leaked documents from Mossack Fonseca, revealed how personalities from around the world hid properties, companies, assets and profits to evade taxes or launder money.

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