Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm has been exposed in what are now called the Panama Papers.
Panama Papers: Mossack Fonseca Aided Sanctioned CompaniesThe leaked Panama Paper reveal that Mossack Fonseca has been aiding at least 33 companies and individuals to the who have been sanctioned by the US Treasury. These include firms and individuals from as far as Syria, Iran, North Korea and Zimbabwe.
These revelations have emerged following the leak of 11m files belonging to the company.
Mossack Fonseca registers companies as offshore firms using its own name, making it difficult to trace the real owners of the companies given that these companies are not registered in their respective public records.
Although some of the businesses were registered prior to the imposition of international sanctions, Mossack Fonseca continued to do business on their behalf after these companies and their owners were blacklisted.
One such company is DCB Finance linked to North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme. The company was founded in 2006 and its directors and owners are based in Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital. The US Treasury blacklisted the company for financing the nuclear weapons programme
The files indicate that Kim Chol Sam, a North Korean official and Nigel Cowel, a British bank, who was also the chief executive of the blacklisted Daedong Credit Bank are the owners of DCB Finance.
In an email, Mossack Fonseca’s compliance department indicated that they had no reason to maintain a relationship with DCB Finance when they knew or ought to have known that North Korea is a blacklisted country.
The Panama Paper also reveal that Mossack Fonseca continued to play proxy for six other companies including Drex Technlogies owned by Mr. Rami Makhlouf, the cousin to Syria’s president Bashar Al-Asaad and one of the country’ wealthiest businessmen.
In a statement, Mossack Fonseca said, “We have never knowingly allowed individuals with relationships to Syria and North Korea to use our companies.
In an interview with the BBC, Panama’s President Juan Carlos Varela said his country was open to contributing to investigations relating to the leaked documents.