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Mossack Fonseca closes three offices

The law firm at the source of the leaked Panama Papers, said it is closing its offices in three offshore jurisdictions.

On Twitter last Friday (3), Mossack Fonseca said:

Our offices in Jersey, Isle of Man and Gibraltar will be ceasing operations, but we will continue serving all of our clients.- Mossack Fonseca (@Mossfon)McClatchy reported last week that Mossack Fonseca's business partner in Wyoming, AAA Corporate Services, also cut its ties to the law firm.In Nevada, Mossack Fonseca's affiliate resigned as the registered agent for 1,024 companies.

On May 20, the Nevada Secretary of State fined M.F. Corporate Services (Nevada) Limited claimed the payment of US$10,000 (the maximum fine allowed by law) for failing to maintain names and addresses of contact people for companies it administered in the state. Jersey, Isle of Man, and Gibraltar are British-dependent territories.

In another Tweet on May 3 about the office closures, Mossack Fonseca said:

This decision has been taken with great regret, as Mossack Fonseca has had a presence in these locations for more than 20 years.

The Panama-based firm has other offices and operations in Belize, The Netherlands, Costa Rica, Malta, Hong Kong, Cyprus, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Panama, British Anguilla, Seychelles and Samoa.

In early April, the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) started publishing the Panama Papers - more than 10 million records leaked from Panama-based Mossack Fonseca. Last month the ICIJ launched a searchable database that used the Panama Papers to index 320,000 offshore companies and the people behind them.

It's not always illegal to own or control anonymous companies. But the companies are sometimes used to evade taxes, launder money, and hide assets. In a statement on its website, Mossack Fonseca said" "We merely help incorporate companies, and before we agree to work with a client in any way, we conduct a thorough due-diligence process, one that in every case meets and quite often exceeds all relevant local rules, regulations and standards to which we and others are bound."

The firm said in nearly 40 years of operation, it hasn't been charged with criminal wrongdoing.

"We're proud of the work we do, notwithstanding recent and willful attempts by some to mischaracterize it," the statement said.

After the ICIJ published the Panama Papers, the United States and UK announced steps to restrict the use of anonymous companies.

Richard L. Cassin is the publisher and editor of the FCPA Blog.

-FCPA blog

 

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