United States, and others, Investigate Panama Papers-Related Tax Evasion

As predicted,[1] the leaked Panama Papers—11.5 million documents detailing the use of anonymous shell corporations to conceal wealth and avoid taxes by some of the richest and most prominent members of society—have now spurred an investigation by the U.S.’ Department of Justice into the international tax avoidance schemes exposed therein.[2] Currently, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of the Department of Justice, seeks to consult with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which received the leaked documents, “regarding matters to which the Panama Papers are relevant.”[3] Indeed, the U.S. Department of Justice is not alone in launching investigations into the tax evasion schemes revealed by the Panama Papers. The first week of April, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority contacted about 20 major financial institutions to request information about relationships or with Mossack Fonseca, the Panama law firm from which the documents leaked.[4] Additionally, Panama and several other European Union member states are also cracking down on tax evasion.[5] On top of these investigations, U.S. Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney, D-N.Y., is pushing a bill she introduced earlier this year that would tighten restrictions on the use of anonymous U.S. shell companies.[6]

Whether, or when, criminal investigations result from the release of the Panama Papers are no longer questions. Still, the Panama Papers incriminates hundreds of thousands of entities; how many of those that are punished remains to be seen.[7]

–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.



[1] http://www.barneslawllp.com/panama-papers-could-spell-trouble-for-tax-evaders/; http://www.barneslawllp.com/leaked-panama-papers-will-spawn-new-irs-criminal-tax-investigations/

[2] http://www.law360.com/tax/articles/786723?nl_pk=5c91248d-6416-44b0-9126-8e2ae415ae92&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=tax

[3] Ibid.

[4] http://www.law360.com/tax/articles/782649?nl_pk=5c91248d-6416-44b0-9126-8e2ae415ae92&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=tax

[5] http://www.law360.com/tax/articles/786723?nl_pk=5c91248d-6416-44b0-9126-8e2ae415ae92&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=tax

[6] Ibid.

[7] See ibid.