Did Mossack Fonseca break the law

Investigations against Mossack Fonseca for a year

Munich - Even before the current revelations about letterbox companies in tax havens, the Cologne public prosecutor's office initiated investigations against the two operators of the financial law firm Mossack Fonseca, according to media reports.

The investigations against Jürgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca because of the suspicion of aiding and abetting tax evasion were started more than a year ago, reported the "Süddeutsche Zeitung" on Wednesday with reference to joint research with NDR and WDR.

The procedure was initiated after the financial authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia had previously bought a CD with secret data from the firm for almost one million euros. Compared to the "Panama Papers", it is only a matter of little data. According to the report, numerous German tax evaders are said to have confessed.

The Cologne investigations against Mossack and Fonseca should run even longer, according to SZ, NDR and WDR. In view of the material, to which the Panama Papers are now also being added, the proceedings are no longer expected to be concluded this year. The Cologne public prosecutor's office did not comment on the case because of the tax secrecy.

The two lawyers Mossack and Fonseca deny breaking the law. "We are responsible members of the global financial and business world," said the firm. "We regret any abuse of our services and we take steps to prevent it."

According to the "Panama Papers", at least 28 German banks used the services of Mossack Fonseca to broker or manage letterbox companies. Those institutes that were previously unknown to the authorities and that are therefore not yet being investigated will, according to the North Rhine-Westphalian Finance Minister Norbert Walter-Borjans (SPD), now also face proceedings.

The minister announced in "SZ", NDR and WDR that the tax investigators in North Rhine-Westphalia would carefully examine the data now published "and all other available information, compare them with the results of their own investigations into offshore activities, and where necessary, in the usual consistent manner Act wisely ".

According to the reports, several German banks filed money laundering reports against the law firm Mossack Fonseca with authorities in North Rhine-Westphalia. It concerns some of those financial institutions against which proceedings in North Rhine-Westphalia for aiding and abetting tax evasion were or were already in progress. After the investigation began, several banks later reported suspected money laundering against the Panama law firm.

Several banks from Germany and abroad have fined around 600 million euros in North Rhine-Westphalia so far. According to "SZ", Commerzbank has meanwhile transferred a fine of EUR 17.1 million, while HSH Nordbank and Hypo-Vereinsbank each pay around EUR 20 million. Most of the proceedings are still ongoing, including against a Swiss subsidiary of Deutsche Bank. In addition, there are now probably new cases because of "Panama Papers". (APA, April 6, 2016)