PANAMA CITY — The Panamanian lawyer at the centre of a data leak scandal that has embarrassed a clutch of world leaders says his firm is a victim of a hack from outside the company, and has filed a complaint with state prosecutors.
Founding partner Ramon Fonseca said his firm Mossack Fonseca, which specialises in setting up offshore companies, had broken no laws and that all its operations were legal.
He said it never destroyed any documents or helped anyone evade taxes or launder money.
Governments across the world have begun investigating possible financial wrongdoing by the rich and powerful after the leak of more than 11.5 million documents, dubbed the “Panama Papers”.
Company emails, extracts of which were published in an investigation by the US-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and others including the ABC’s Four Corners, were “taken out of context” and misinterpreted, Mr Fonseca said.
“We rule out an inside job. This is not a leak. This is a hack,” Mr Fonseca said at the company’s headquarters in Panama City’s business district.
“We have a theory and we are following it. We have already made the relevant complaints to the Attorney-General’s office, and there is a government institution studying the issue.”
Mr Fonseca described this week’s media storm as a “witch hunt” and said emails had been taken out of context.
He lamented what he called journalistic activism and sensationalism, extolling his own investigative research credentials as a published novelist in Panama.
He said he feared that his rivals could muscle in on their business following the leak.
“The only crime that has been proven is the hack,” Mr Fonseca said.
“No-one is talking about that. That is the story.I guarantee you that we will not be found guilty of anything.”
He said his company had a staff of around 500, 300 of which work in Panama, but declined to comment on his law firm’s structure or franchises in other parts of the world.
Setting up a company might cost between about $700 and $1,000, he said, with a significant part of that fee going to the Government. Mossack Fonseca has set up around 250,000 businesses over the past 40 years.
He said business rules had tightened and that his company had adhered to them.
“Fifteen years ago, due diligence didn’t exist and they are judging us by other standards,” Mr Fonseca said.
The Panama Papers have revealed financial arrangements of prominent figures, including friends of Russian President Vladimir Putin, relatives of the prime ministers of Britain and Pakistan and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the President of Ukraine.
PM congratulates Nepali national cricket team
KATHMANDU— Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has congratulated Nepali national cricket team for being able to clinch the International T20 series.
PM Oli in a tweet extended best wishes and congratulations saying he was very happy to know Nepal’s win over the UAE by 14 runs in the third match of the series.
Winning T20 series is another landmark success for Nepali cricket, he said, adding, “It is big achievement for Nepal’s cricket. I would like to heartily congratulate entire members of Nepali cricket squad”.