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Panamanian court acquits 28 suspects in ‘Panama Papers’ trial

Panamanian court acquits 28 suspects in ‘Panama Papers’ trial

Panama City – A Panamanian court on Friday acquitted 28 people accused of money laundering linked to the now-defunct Mossack Fonseca law firm, the epicenter of the ‘Panama Papers’ international tax evasion scandal. Among those acquitted were the company’s founders, Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, the latter of whom died in a Panamanian hospital in May. During the trial, which was held in Panama City in April, the prosecution demanded twelve years in prison for the duo, the maximum penalty for money laundering.

However, Judge Baloisa Marquinez acquitted the pair and 26 others after ruling that evidence retrieved from the law firm’s servers had not been collected in accordance with due process of law. This raised doubts about its “authenticity and integrity”, according to a court statement.

The judge also ruled that “the remainder of the evidence was not sufficient and conclusive to establish the criminal liability of the defendants,” the court statement said.

Leaked Mossack Fonseca documents from 2016 revealed how many of the world’s wealthiest assets were stashed in offshore companies, sparking numerous investigations around the world.

Those involved included former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Russian President Vladimir Putin, football star Lionel Messi, then-President of Argentina Mauricio Macri and Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, to name a few.

Panamanian prosecutors had alleged that Mossack and Fonseca helped set up opaque companies into which executives of the German multinational Siemens funneled millions of euros outside the company’s official accounts.

They were also accused of helping divert funds from a massive fraud in Argentina.

“Justice has been done, we are extremely satisfied with the judge’s ruling,” Guillermina McDonald, a lawyer for Mossack and other defendants, told AFP.