US unveils first criminal charges over Panama Papers

Panamanian firm helped dictators, drug lords and the ultra-wealthy hide their cash.

WASHINGTON — Nearly three years after the publication of a massive leak of secret offshore shell-company documents known as the Panama Papers, U.S. prosecutors announced criminal charges Tuesday against four people, including a former top lawyer for Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian firm that helped dictators, drug lords and the ultra-wealthy hide their cash.

Prosecutors in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York late Tuesday accused Ramses Owens, a longtime lawyer for Mossack Fonseca, of wire fraud and conspiracy to commit tax evasion and money laundering.

Owens’ name appears 96,696 times in the massive database of leaked files maintained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, which pulled together reporters across the globe for the undertaking. He left the firm after the April 2016 publication of the Panama Papers.

Also charged in the alleged conspiracy, which the indictment

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