Over-excited journalists and politicians who describe Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca as ‘secretive’ really should do their homework. The firm at the centre of the Panama Papers scandal (which vigorously denies any wrongdoing) could hardly be more open.
Its website advertises expertise in tax-haven jurisdictions including Belize, Hong Kong, Cyprus, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, British Anguilla, Seychelles and Samoa. It has branches in more than 25 countries, including one in London.
According to The Atlantic magazine, in 2001 Ramses Owens, a top MF lawyer, spoke on the Isle of Man to promote the business, breaking into a salsa routine to liven up the proceedings.
At home, the company is well-connected through founder Ramón Fonseca, who has published prizewinning novels. When Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela entered office in 2014, Fonseca was acting president of Varela’s political party.
Obiter suspects that the firm’s partners now wish they didn’t have quite such a household name.