Panama Papers law firm says it is a hacking ‘victim’
April 6, 2016
Shah Sheikh (1294 articles)

Panama Papers law firm says it is a hacking ‘victim’

A founding partner of the Panamanian law firm at the center of the Panama Papers scandal says it is a “victim” and the real crime is hacking.

“We rule out an inside job. This is not a leak. This is a hack,” Ramon Fonseca, 63, founding partner ofMossack Fonseca, told Reuters at the company’s headquarters in Panama City. “We have a theory and we are following it.”

The firm filed a complaint with state prosecutors, and a “government institution” is studying the issue, he added.

Millions of company emails and other documents were initially obtained by German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which was later joined by the U.S.-basedInternational Consortium of Investigative Journalists and 100 other media organizations, including The Guardian and the BBC.

The ICIJ reported the documents tie the firm, which specializes in shell companies that can be used to conceal assets, to Russian oligarchs, former heads of state and world soccer’s scandal-plagued governing body.

Iceland’s Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned Tuesday following accusations he had offshore accounts that allegedly had holdings in Iceland’s collapsed banks.

Other prominent figures named in the documents include Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, family of Chinese PresidentXi Jinping and relatives of the prime ministers of Britain and Pakistan.

A spokesman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said the British leader and his family will not benefit in the future from any offshore funds.

The documents also list more than 30 people and companies blacklisted by the U.S. for evidence of conducting business with Mexican drug lords, terrorist organizations or rogue nations, including North Korea.

The firestorm around Mossack Fonseca is mostly tied to its work for foreign customers and covers nearly 40 years from the late 1970s to the end of last year.

State incorporation records show the firm helped set up nearly 1,100 business entities in the United States since 2001.

The Justice Department is reviewing the reports, the head of its Criminal Division, Leslie Caldwell, said Tuesday without elaborating.

Fonseca said critical emails were “taken out of context” and denounced what he called a “witch-hunt,” Reuters reported.

“The only crime that has been proven is the hack. No one is talking about that. That is the story,” he said. “We are amazed that nobody has said: ‘Hey, a crime has been committed here.'”

Fonseca suggested the company’s computers were hacked from servers abroad. His comments were the latest response by Mossack Fonseca to the burgeoning scandal.

Carlos Sousa, the company’s public relations director, said in an earlier statement to journalists that the company “never knowingly allowed the use of our companies by individuals having any relationship with North Korea, Zimbabwe, Syria and other countries mentioned by you that might have been considered as a threat to any other country’s national security or that have been listed by a sanctioning body.”

Sousa accused the journalists of gaining “unauthorized access to proprietary documents and information taken from our company and have presented and interpreted them out of context.”

“We trust that you are fully aware that using information/documentation unlawfully obtained is a crime, and we will not hesitate to pursue all available criminal and civil remedies,” the company said.

Source | USAToday