U.S. opens criminal investigation into Panama Papers over tax avoidance claims

Guard outside the offices of Mossack Fonseca, in Panama. [Reuters]

In New York, a federal prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation around the “Panama Papers,” an archive of materials leaked from a Panamanian law firm that reveal a massive, secretive network of places where the world's most rich hide their riches.

The Guardian broke the news yesterday on its website.

From the Washington Post:

In a letter to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wrote that his office had “opened a criminal investigation regarding matters to which the Panama Papers are relevant,” and he asked to speak with someone who had worked on the project. The Guardian newspaper, which was among those to analyze the materials, posted a copy of the letter on its website.

While virtually all of the details of the investigation remain unclear, the letter suggests that the Justice Department has stepped up its efforts to look into possible wrongdoing the Panama Papers might show. Earlier this month, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, who heads the department’s criminal division, would say only that U.S. officials were “reviewing the reports that we saw.”

While virtually all of the details of the investigation remain unclear, the letter suggests that the Justice Department has stepped up its efforts to look into possible wrongdoing the Panama Papers might show. Earlier this month, Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell, who heads the department’s criminal division, would say only that U.S. officials were “reviewing the reports that we saw.”

"U.S. launches ‘criminal investigation’ involving Panama Papers" [washington post]

Letter from the Department of Justice to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists stating they have opened an investigation.

Letter from the Department of Justice to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists stating they have opened an investigation.