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Panama Arrests Partners of Law Firm at Center of Panama Papers Scandal

  • Associated Press

A journalist reports on the Odebrecht corruption case outside the Public Ministry in Panama City, Feb. 10, 2017. Panama's Attorney General's Office ordered a search of offices belonging to law firm Ramon Fonseca Mora, a partner at Mossack-Fonseca, accusing the firm of setting up offshore accounts that allowed Brazilian construction company Odebrecht to funnel bribes to various countries.

Prosecutors in Panama say they've formally arrested the partners of a law firm involved in last year's "Panama Papers" scandal, in which thousands of pages of documents related to offshore accounts were leaked.

The arrests announced Saturday are related to another scandal involving bribes paid by the Brazilian company Odebrecht.

Mossack Fonseca Group

Who: Founded by Jurgen Mossack, who was born in Germany in 1948, and Ramon Fonseca, born in Panama, 1952

When: Established in 1977; became Mossack Fonseca in 1986, when the law firms merged

What: A global company that provides comprehensive legal, trust and wealth management services. Incorporates, administers companies in offshore jurisdictions such as Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, the British Virgin Islands and Malta, as well as the U.S. states of Nevada and Wyoming

Where: Located in Panama

Global presence: Considered world's fourth-largest provider of offshore services

Response to Panama Papers: Firm declined to comment on specific allegations, citing client confidentiality, but said it acted responsibly and complied with international protocols: “The companies we incorporate are not being used for tax evasion, money laundering, terrorist financing or other illicit purposes." However, they added, "We regret any misuse of our services and actively take steps to prevent it.”

Ramon Fonseca Mora and Jurgen Mossack are partners at the Mossack-Fonseca firm. Officials pulled them in for questioning on Thursday and formally detained them following two days of interrogations.

The Attorney General's Office has searched the firm's offices, accusing them of setting up offshore accounts that allowed a Brazilian construction company to funnel bribes to various countries.

The two face charges of money laundering.

Odebrecht has acknowledged paying $800 million in bribes across Latin America.

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