Geneva prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation in response to a complaint from the Panamanian law firm at the heart of the Panama Papers scandal, Bloomberg and other media organisations were reporting on Wednesday, in the wake of what they said was the reported arrest of an IT technician at the Geneva office of the law firm, Mossack Fonseca.
According to Bloomberg, the news that a Mossack Fonseca technician had been “arrested by Geneva police a few days ago, on suspicion of leaking massive amounts of confidential data” had been reported on Tuesday by the Swiss newspaper Le Temps.
Geneva prosecutor Claudio Mascotto is heading up the investigation, Bloomberg said, citing Mascotto’s spokesman as its source.
The BBC said it understood that the computer technician hd been arrested “on suspicion of removing large amounts of data” from Mossack Fonseca, and that the employee had been “arrested at the law firm’s Geneva offices after the company provided information to prosecutors”.
“The employee is accused by the firm of theft of data, unauthorised access and breach of trust”, the BBC report said, without indicating whether the individual was formally being investigated as the one who leaked the data from Mossack Fonseca’s Panama office to the world media.
As reported, the so-called Panama Papers saga began in early April, when a US-based investigative journalism organisation oversaw the release of thousands of pages of confidential documents that had been stolen from the Panama offices of Mossack Fonseca, which it said it had received from Germany’s Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper. It in turn was understood to have obtained them from an unidentified source, who, in the website of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, detailed their reasons for remaining anonymous.
Immediately after the contents of the documents began to be published on 3 April by hundreds of newspapers around the world, repercussions began, which thus far have included the resignation of Iceland’s prime minister, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, and vows by numerous tax authorities to follow up on some of the revelations. The US Justice Department is also said to be looking into the matter.
Some have called the Panama Papers the biggest leak of confidential information ever to hit the global financial services industry.