Global Investigations Review - The law and practice of international investigations

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Tuesday, 25 February 2020

US judge rules Panama Papers can be used as evidence in tax evasion trial

A federal judge in Manhattan has ruled that the Panama Papers database as obtained from German authorities can be admitted as evidence in the upcoming trial of US accountant Richard Gaffey on charges of wire fraud, money laundering conspiracy and aggravated identity theft.

Court filings show that Justice Richard Berman accepted the government’s motion to authenticate parts of the Panama Papers relevant to the case against Gaffey at a pre-trial hearing on 24 February.

The judge also accepted the guilty plea of Gaffey’s co-defendant Harald von der Goltz at the hearing, and scheduled sentencing for 24 June.

The Panama Papers are a trove of 11.5 million documents related to shuttered Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonsecca that was leaked online in 2016.

Former Peru PM arrested in Odebrecht investigation

Peruvian prosecutors have arrested former prime minister Yehude Simon Munaro over his alleged links with embattled construction company Odebrecht, according to reports.

A judge ordered Simon’s 10-day preliminary detention at the request of Peru’s Operation Car Wash taskforce. He is the second ex-prime minister of Peru to be arrested as part of the scandal after César Villanueva Arévalo was detained in December.

Meanwhile, Peru’s Operation Car Wash taskforce has reportedly seen documents revealing that Marcelo Odebrecht, the Brazilian company’s former CEO, authorised at least 11 payments worth $3 million to finance the 2011 presidential campaign of Peru’s ex-president Ollanta Humala.

Humala, who is among several former presidents alleged to have accepted bribes from Odebrecht, denies wrongdoing.

Swedish authorities to question former Swedbank CEO

Swedish authorities will reportedly question Birgitte Bonnesen, the former CEO of Swedbank, as part of an investigation into allegations that billions of illicit funds flowed through the Swedish bank.

Sweden’s Economic Crime Authority (EBM) is investigating Swedbank over its processing of transactions that flowed from the Estonian branch of Danish bank Danske Bank, which admitted in 2018 to falling to check €200 billion in suspicious transfers.

The bank is cooperating with the EBM probe and in 2019 waived attorney-client privilege over an internal investigation. 

Bonnesen’s lawyer told Swedish news outlet Svenska Dagbladet that his client is innocent: “This will never lead to anything for Birgitte Bonnesen, absolutely nothing,” said Per Samuelson at Advokatfirman SSW in Stockholm. 

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