London, April 9 (IANS) Prosecutors in El Salvador have raided the offices of Mossack Fonseca, the Panamian law firm at the centre of the global data leak for allegedly facilitating people to open offices in tax havens, and siezed a host of documents and computers.
El Salvador Attorney General Douglas Melendez himself supervised the raid after noticing that the company had removed the sign board, his office said in a tweet. The employees, however, said that the board was removed since they were moving offices.
“A good amount of computer equipment was found inside the offices of Mossack Fonseca,” said the Attorney General’s office after the raids at their premises in Colonia Escalon, an area in the Central American country’s capital city, San Salvador.
Melendez later told the media that seven employees were queried and 20 computers had been seized, but no detention was made. “At this moment we cannot speak about any crime,” he said, adding the El Salvador office could have been helping in processing global information for the law firm.
A global expose by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and over 100 global media organisations involving millions of leaked documents of Mossack Fonseca reveal how it allegedly facilitated the rich and the powerful to open offshore companies.
Those who have been named thus far include friends of Russian president Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko, relatives of Prime Ministers Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan and Iceland Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson, who has regigned.
Over 500 Indians are also said to have opened such accounts.
Following the expose, a team ordered by Prime Minister Narendra Modi comprising officers from the Central Board of Direct Taxes’ Financial Intelligence Unit and its Tax Research Unit, as also officials from the Reserve Bank of India, is probing the matter.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has said every bit of the expose that pointed toward offshore companies set up by more than 500 Indians will be probed and that people with illegal money stashed abroad “won’t get to sleep” at night now.