Mossack Fonseca, the offshore law firm at the center of the Panama Papers investigation, announced that it will be closing its doors by the end of the month.
According to a statement obtained by the the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), Mossack Fonseca stated, “The reputational deterioration, the media campaign, the financial siege and the irregular actions of some Panamanian authorities have caused irreparable damage, whose obligatory consequence is the total cessation of operations to the public.” The firm said it would “continue to call for justice” and would cooperate with authorities to “demonstrate that no crime has been committed.”
More than 370 journalists in 80 countries took part in a year-long effort to parse through a massive trove of leaked files (the “Panama Papers”) from Mossack Fonseca, a firm that for more than four decades was at the center of facilitating shell companies, offshore tax shelters, and secret trusts for wealthy and politically connected individuals around the world. In July 2016, the ICIJ reported its findings on a new round of investigations, revealing that Mossack Fonseca’s internal records “include more than 1,400 companies whose names refer to mining, minerals, oil, petrol or gas.” According to those internal records, Mossack Fonseca established offshore companies to own, hold, or do business with petroleum, natural gas, and mining operations in 44 of Africa’s 54 countries—many of them controlled by politicians, their family members, and business associates, ICIJ reported.
The ICIJ investigation further revealed that Mossack Fonseca created 12 out of the 17 companies currently under investigation by Italian prosecutors. That investigation concerns alleged bribes that a middleman, Farid Bedjaoui (the nephew of a former Algerian foreign minister), paid to Algerian government officials and executives of Italian energy giant Saipem to secure a $10 billion oil and gas deal in Algeria.