Panama pursues law firm connected to Brazilian bribery case

AP News
Posted: Feb 09, 2017 8:24 PM

PANAMA CITY (AP) — Panama's Attorney General's Office on Thursday ordered a search of offices belong to a law firm it accuses of setting up offshore accounts that allowed a Brazilian construction company to funnel bribes to various countries.

Ramon Fonseca Mora, a partner at Mossack-Fonseca, responded that the firm was being used as a "scapegoat" to avoid investigating who in Panama received bribes from the Brazilian company Odebrecht.

Odebrecht has admitted to paying $800 million in bribes across Latin America.

"They have been saying things from the outside because here there has been no real investigation," Fonseca Mora said, alleging that Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela had told him he had received a donation from Odebrecht for his 2014 campaign.

At a news conference, Varela denied receiving such funds and asked the Electoral Tribunal to produce an authenticate copy of his sworn declaration from the end of the campaign including donations.

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"All the donations to my campaign will be made public tomorrow," the president said.

"The donations received by my campaign are political contributions," Varela added. "They are not bribes."

Mossack-Fonseca last year was also the focus of the "Panama Papers" scandal after thousands of pages of documents related to offshore accounts were leaked revealing attempts by its wealthy international clients to dodge taxes in their home countries.