Dozens of Americans accused of financial fraud or misconduct have links to Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm specializing in selling offshore entities, according to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). This is part of the latest release by the ICIJ of the so-called "Panama Papers."
Thousands more documents relating to more than 200,000 offshore entities named in the Panama Papers were made available to the public in an online database by the ICIJ on Monday. The leaked data comes from nearly four decades of archives from Mossack Fonseca.
Mossack Fonseca has denied any wrongdoing. Offshore bank accounts are not inherently illegal, and they can have many legitimate uses. But they have also been known to be used by both legitimate and criminal enterprises to hide money and avoid paying taxes.
Last week, the Panamanian law firm said it sent a cease-and-desist letter to the ICIJ regarding the group’s second release of information.
"The letter urges the ICIJ to abstain from this action taking into consideration that it is based on the theft of confidential information and is a violation of the confidentiality agreement between attorney and client, which we must protect," Mossack Fonseca said in a statement last week.
"It is important for us to make clear that we operate, in all jurisdictions, under strict compliance with the law and regulations of the industry in all services provided, respecting strong client identification norms."
Regarding the ICIJ report, Mossack Fonseca did not address individual cases but has previously said that it works to make sure that the companies it incorporates are "not being used for tax evasion, money laundering, terrorist finance, or other illicit purposes."
Mossack Fonseca released a statement on Tuesday saying because the ICIJ ignored the cease-and-desist letter, the law firm is initiating "firm action to protect ourselves from acts such as this one."
"The use of stolen information is a crime in every state where we operate," the statement reads in part. "Mossack Fonseca complies with industry regulations in all the jurisdictions in which it operates, and renders all services in strict adherence with all applicable laws, including conducting the required due diligence on all new and prospective clients.
"The publication of illegally obtained information has fueled misguided speculation about facts taken entirely out of context, and ignores our compliance with know your client practices established by the legal systems of Panama and other jurisdictions where we work. This has damaged the image not only of our group but also of our clients, and violated attorney-client confidentiality, which is a basic and universal principle in the practice of the law."
Here are some of the Americans with links to Mossack Fonseca in the latest release of the Panama Papers:
1. Leonard Gotshalk
Former Atlanta Falcons player Leonard "Leo" Gotshalk was no stranger to the law when he became involved with Mossack Fonseca.
Gotshalk was convicted of felony theft by an Oregon court in 2004 and after pleading no contest. And, on May 21, 2010, federal prosecutors in Philadelphia unsealed an indictment that charged him with securities fraud, alleging that he inflated the prices of tech company stocks. While the subsequent filings are under seal, the ICIJ reports that a sentencing hearing for Gotshalk is scheduled for May 19.
Three days after the prosecutors had unsealed the indictment, Mossack Fonseca recorded a $3,055 wire transfer from Gotshalk, the firm’s internal records show, according to the ICIJ. That money paid for a company called Irishmyst Consultants Limited registered in the British Virgin Islands.
Gotshalk and his attorney did not respond to a request for comment.
2. Mary Patten
In 2005, a federal judge ruled Mary Patten helped perpetuate a $6 million investment fraud using a company associated with Mossack Fonseca on the island of Jersey, according to the ICIJ. The judge ruled Patten had played a "crucial role" in the fraud and ordered her and another defendant to pay more than $5 million in restitution, fines and interest.
Patten could not be reached for comment. According to the ICIJ, the leaked documents indicated a Mossack Fonseca representative told the firm he had been duped into believing that Patten needed help as the victim of a "malicious lawsuit."
In a previous statement, Mossack Fonseca said, "As a registered agent, we are obligated to work with authorities in cases in which individuals are linked to an entity under investigation. We have and will continue to cooperate with authorities under such circumstances. However, we are limited legally and operationally in how much we can do. We are not involved in managing our clients’ companies, their money or their assets."
3. Martin Frankel
Martin Frankel, a financier in Connecticut, pleaded guilty in 2002 to charges of wire fraud, securities fraud and racketeering conspiracy. Frankel was a client of Mossack Fonseca, from which U.S. authorities sought information about two of Frankel's offshore companies, Fusion reported.
The ICIJ reports Mossack Fonseca took several months to respond to authorities' official request for documents in 2000. Meanwhile, according to the report, the law firm worked to shut down companies linked to Frankel and disengage from its association with him.
4. Harvey Milam
Harvey Milam and others were accused of cheating investors by fraudulently transferring an insurance company's assets to other companies. Milam was a client of Michael Edge, a U.S.-based representative of Mossack Fonseca, according to the ICIJ.
Milam and other defendants settled the case in 2012 without admitting wrongdoing, the ICIJ reported.
An attorney for Milam declined to comment.
5. Robert Miracle
Robert Miracle, a Seattle businessman, pleaded guilty to tax evasion and mail fraud in a case involving an alleged Ponzi scheme and two offshore companies linked to Miracle that Mossack Fonseca allegedly set up. One of those companies, MCube Petroleum Ltd., was registered by the law firm in March 2007 in the British Virgin Islands, according to the ICIJ's database, which was three months after Miracle was accused of violating securities laws. According to the ICIJ, however, the documents show that Mossack Fonseca didn't learn about Miracle's crimes until 2012.
An attorney for Miracle did not respond to a request for comment.