Men Charged in Panama Papers Investigation

The journalists who broke 'Panama Papers'

In an indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors said that from 2000 to 2017, Owens and Brauer conspired to help clients of Mossack Fonseca hide assets, investments and income from United States tax authorities, using sham foundations and shell companies formed under the law of countries including Panama, Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands. The law firm shut down earlier this year.

Four men have been charged in the U.S. with fraud and tax evasion in connection with investigations prompted by the leaked Panama Papers.

Three of the four people have already been arrested, prosecutors said, in the first criminal case brought by U.S. authorities in connection with Mossack Fonseca & Co, the Panamanian law firm at the center of the leak.

The four men charged are Ramses Owens, 50; Dirk Brauer, 54, a German citizen who worked for an asset management company linked to Mossack Fonseca; German citizen and former USA taxpayer Harald Joachim Von Der Goltz, 81; and Richard Gaffey, 74, a US -based accountant. Ramses Owens of Panama is seemingly still at large.

Three of the four - Richard Gaffey of Massachusetts, Dirk Brauer of Germany, and Harald Joachim Von Der Goltz of Germany - have already been arrested.

Gaffey of Medfield, Massachusetts (the lone American named) was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit tax evasion, one count of wire fraud, one count of money laundering conspiracy, and four counts of willful failure to file an FBAR (an IRS form required for high-value foreign accounts).

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Prosecutors allege Mr Owens and Mr Brauer created and ran sham foundations and shell companies to hide assets.

Messages sent to an attorney for Gaffey were not immediately returned Tuesday evening.

Richard Gaffey, a US -based accountant, was arrested in MA on Tuesday, according to prosecutors.

According to the indictment, Owens and Brauer opened offshore trusts and undeclared bank accounts in Panama, Hong Kong and the British Virgin Islands - countries with stringent bank privacy regulations - for American clients of Mossack Fonseca. Brauer, a German national, was an investment manager for Mossfon Asset Management, which was closely affiliated to Mossack Fonseca, the Justice Department said.

"As alleged, these defendants went to extraordinary lengths to circumvent US tax laws in order to maintain their wealth and the wealth of their clients", said Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman. They also allegedly told their American clients how to recover their funds without revealing the existence of the accounts, including by using debit cards and "fictitious sales".

Gaffey also worked with Owens to help another, unnamed client deceive the IRS by establishing offshore accounts to hold about $4 million.

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