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Ramón Fonseca: founder of law firm Panama Papers dies

  • By Kathryn Armstrong
  • BBC news

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption, Ramon Fonseca was also a former minister and novelist

The co-founder of the law firm at the center of the Panama Papers tax scandal has died.

Ramón Fonseca Mora, 71, suffered from poor health.

He was among nearly 30 people who stood trial last month on charges related to the so-called Panama Papers – a major leak of secret financial documents in 2016.

The leak revealed how some of the richest and most powerful people in the world hid their wealth.

Mr Fonseca’s niece confirmed his death on X (formerly Twitter).

“Rest in peace, dear uncle, you will always live on in our hearts,” Carolina Fonseca wrote on Thursday.

Mr. Fonseca was charged with money laundering in connection with the leak along with Jurgen Mossack, with whom he founded the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. Both denied the allegations.

It was from Mossack Fonseca that the Panama Papers were leaked.

Mr Fonseca and his co-defendant had been waiting for a verdict in the trial and he could have faced up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.

He did not attend court in Panama in April because he was in hospital, his lawyers said.

In addition to his work as a lawyer, Mr. Fonseca also served as a minister in the government of former Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela, but stepped aside in 2016. He was also a novelist.

The Panama Papers – a collection of 11 million financial documents – involved more than a hundred politicians, including then heads of state and government, billionaires and sports stars.

They also highlighted how tax havens such as Panama and the British Virgin Islands were used by the rich and powerful to hide their wealth and avoid taxes.

The data was first leaked to the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists in 2016.

Mossack Fonseca closed in 2018, partly due to the financial and reputational damage caused by the breach.