1.2m new files from Panama Papers reveal backlash from angry clients

Pedro Gonçalves
clock • 2 min read

A new leak of 1.2 million documents related to the Panama Papers shows a long list of angry clients frantically condemning Mossack Fonseca, the law firm involved in the 2016 scandal.

According to a report on the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) website, with their clients identities disclosed in the original leak, employees at the firm scrambled to figure out who their actual customers were. The new files, which reveal correspondence among employees, details the backlash directed at the firm.

“THE CLIENT DISAPPEARED! I CAN NOT FIND HIM ANYMORE!!!!!!!,” a Swiss wealth management adviser, wrote in March 2017. A long-time intermediary of Mossack Fonseca, she acted for 80 companies set up by the firm according to the ICIJ.

The new documents showed clients’ emails demanding to know what information was compromised, whether any secret details had been released and if the company wiped all personal information.

The Swiss adviser, was among the first to contact the firm about journalists’ inquiries. She included yellow highlighting in one email complaint to Mossack Fonseca. “This French journalist wants to publish an article in the newspaper Le Monde which is not acceptable for me!!!,” Didi wrote in an email revealed by the ICIJ.

One finance professional told Mossack Fonseca that he had never given permission for his name to be written on offshore company documents, let alone made public.

“It’s gob smacking, and I demand you DELETE my name from all your files,” the professional wrote in an email to Mossack Fonseca’s office in Luxembourg.

As authorities began questioning the company, employees communicated with each other about their lack of ability to identify many clients.

“We all know that we are under severe scrutiny by the authorities, and to present incomplete information to the FIA [British Virgin Islands’ financial intelligence agency] is bad. But it is worse when we are directly involved with the management of the company and we ought to know and have the information and details on the UBO [ultimate beneficial owner], but that information is lacking. It is embarrassing,” one employee of the law firm wrote.

The firm, which closed last March, was unable to identify owners of 72% of the of 28,500 active companies in the British Virgin Islands and 75% in Panama, the ICIJ reported.