Germany issues warrants for Panama Papers lawyers

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Prosecutors in Germany have issued international arrest warrants for the cofounders of a Panama-based law firm behind the offshore tax scam that was exposed by the so-called Panama Papers leak.

German-born Jürgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca are being sought by Cologne prosecutors on charges of accessory to tax evasion and forming a criminal organization, German public broadcasters NDR and WDR, as well as national newspaper the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) reported on Tuesday.

Cologne prosecutors confirmed that they had issued international arrest warrants for two people but declined to provide further information.

Both Mossack and Fonseca have Panamanian citizenship, NDR reported. Panama does not extradite its own citizens so it is unclear whether either will ever be brought to Germany for trial.

Mossack Fonseca’s co-founder, German Panama-based lawyer Juergen Mossack speaks during a press conference in Panama City, Panama. EPA/ALEJANDRO BOLIVAR

The 2016 Panama Papers leak included a collection of 11 million secret financial documents taken from law firm Mossack Fonscesca.

The documents showed how some of the world’s richest people hid their money in shell corporations — some of which were used for illegal purposes.

Partner of Law Firm Mossack Fonseca, Ramon Fonseca Mora. EPA/STR

The documents leak — initially to the SZ and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) – had wide-reaching repercussions. Several country leaders stepped down following the revelations and others came under close scrutiny.

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