IRS’s Investigation Into the ‘Panama Papers’ Leak Hits a Roadblock
When the Panamanian Law Firm Mossack Fonseca was hacked and the multitude of confidential and incriminating documents was released to the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), there was unanimous concurrence that this would result in a slew of criminal investigations by the United States and other countries into offshore tax evasion. Shortly thereafter, when the United States and other countries announced that they would open investigations into the tax-evasion detailed in the Panama Papers, no one was surprised. Likewise, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s request for the ICIJ to cooperate with the U.S. Department Justice, while not clearly expected, was similarly unsurprising. However, in a turn of events that may be the first surprise surrounding the Panama Papers besides the massive leak itself, the ICIJ has responded to Mr. Bharara that it will not turn over its unpublished data to the U.S. Department of Justice, nor even assist with the investigation. The ICIJ could not be reached for comment, and the Department of Justice declined to comment on the matter. ICIJ Director Gerard Ryle stated that while the ICIJ welcomes the Department of Justice’s review of the information contained in the published information from the Panama Papers, the ICIJ does not intend to play a role in the DOJ investigation.
Although it remains to be seen whether the ICIJ will succumb to the will of the Department of Justice, this is the first indication that the DOJ may not have a slam dunk as was previously thought. For those who have not slept since the Panama Papers were revealed for fear of criminal exposure, this information may provide some solace.
–By Tony Nasser, Esq., Barnes Law
Tony Nasser is an attorney with Barnes Law, licensed to practice law in California.
The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the firm, its clients, or any of its or their respective affiliates. This article is for general information purposes and is not intended to be and should not be taken as legal advice.