4 men charged with fraud, money laundering in connection to Panama Papers investigation

By Doha Madani

The Department of Justice filed charges including fraud and money laundering against four individuals, one a U.S. citizen, in connection with their alleged roles in a decades long criminal scheme perpetrated by Mossack Fonseca & Co, a Panamanian global law firm.

The case is part of an investigation stemming from the Panama Papers, a massive leak of financial details about secret offshore accounts in 2016.

Richard Gaffey, a U.S. citizen; Ramses Owens, 50, of Panama; and Dirk Brauer, 54, and Harald Joachim Von Der Goltz, 81, both German citizens, were charged in an indictment unsealed on Tuesday, according to a Department of Justice press release.

“They had a playbook to repatriate untaxed money into the U.S. banking system. Now, their international tax scheme is over, and these defendants face years in prison for their crimes,” Berman said.

Prosecutors say Owens and Brauer, while working with Mossack Fonseca clients, marketed, created, and serviced sham foundations and shell companies in foreign countries to conceal U.S. taxpayers’ actual incomes from the IRS, the Justice Department said in a statement.

Von Der Goltz was allegedly one of those clients and was assisted by Gaffey, an accountant, the statement said.

Three of the four defendants named in the indictment have been arrested while Owens, a Panamanian attorney, remains at large.

Owens, Gaffey and Von Der Goltz were charged with one count each of wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy, and conspiracy to commit tax evasion. Owens and Brauer were also charged with one count each of conspiracy to defraud the United States and conspiracy to commit wire fraud.

In addition, Gaffey and Von Der Goltz were charged with four counts of willful failure to file an FBAR, a disclosure report for U.S. taxpayers who have foreign financial accounts or interests worth more than $10,000. Von Der Goltz is also facing two counts of making false statements.