Panama Papers: Court acquits all 28 accused of money laundering

Image source, Martin Pernetti/AFP via Getty Images

Comment on the photo, Jurgen Mossack was one of the main defendants in the Panama Papers case.

  • author, Anna Lamche
  • Role, BBC News

A Panamanian court has acquitted all 28 people charged with money laundering in connection with the Panama Papers scandal, at the end of a trial that began in April.

Secret financial documents were leaked in 2016, revealing how some of the world’s richest and most powerful people use tax havens to hide their wealth.

Among those acquitted were Jurgen Mossack and the late Ramon Fonseca, founder of Mossack Fonseca, the now defunct law firm at the centre of the scandal.

Judge Paluesa Marquinez said the evidence considered by the court was “insufficient” to determine the criminal responsibility of the defendants.

During the trial, the prosecution demanded a maximum sentence of 12 years in prison for both Mossack and Fonseca, who died in hospital last May on money laundering charges.

Both Mr. Mossack and Mr. Fonseca have denied that they, their companies or their employees acted illegally.

The trial, which took place in Panama City, lasted 85 hours, heard testimony from 27 witnesses and considered more than 50 pieces of documentary evidence, according to The Hill. Local news reports.

After a long period of deliberation, the judge said that the evidence collected from Mossack Fonseca’s servers had not been collected in accordance with due process, and dropped all criminal charges against the defendants.

In 2017, Mossack Fonseca said the company had been the victim of a computer hack and that the leaked information had been misrepresented.

In all, the data revealed links to 12 current or former heads of state and government, including dictators accused of embezzling money from their countries.

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