Fact Check: Argentina

937 days, 15 hours, 31 minutes ago


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Mossack Fonseca: Hiding In Its Shell

ATFA member NML Capital has escalated its fight in Nevada court to obtain information from more than 120 shell companies linked to alleged money launderer Lázaro Báez.  According to court findings, the Báez shell companies were set up with the assistance of the notorious Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, an outfit known for its expertise in helping kleptocrats channel stolen funds to foreign tax havens.  To date, Mossack Fonseca has refused to cooperate with the court-issued subpoena ordering it to comply with NML’s discovery request into the activities of the Báez shell companies.  In response, NML is now seeking discovery from Mossack Fonseca itself, alleging that one of the shell companies is in fact Mossack’s “alter ego” in the United States.

Here is a link to NML’s filing in Nevada court.

FactCheckArgentina has previously reported on Mossack Fonseca, and the law firm has also earned a Money Trail Player Card for its shady dealings, including a client roster that has included global paragons like Muammar Gaddafi.

NML’s filing was in response to Mossack Fonseca’s refusal to comply with previous court orders mandating that it to produce documents detailing activities of the Báez shell companies.  Recently, a Federal District Court in Nevada displayed its unequivocal support of NML’s petition, stating that “NML made a substantial showing that Báez laundered money [through] the [Báez Entities] and that Mossack Fonseca controls the [Báez Entities]…”

The Court explained:

A company cannot purposefully avail itself of the law’s benefits by incorporating in this jurisdiction and then excuse itself from the court’s subpoena power by abusing the corporate form. This would allow a corporation to exploit the benefits created by the law without shouldering the concomitant burdens and responsibilities imposed by the law. By incorporating in the State of Nevada, the [Báez Entities] assented to this court’s power to impose a burden. . . on Nevada residents to testify. . . .Abuse of the corporate form cannot render this burden surplusage. . .

The Court also found that “[t]here is no doubt that the [Báez entities] are shell corporations…Similarly, there is no doubt that shell corporations are routinely formed to commit fraud.”

There’s no ambiguity here.  Shell companies are not set up by legitimate business interests, and the 120 Lazaro Báez shell companies that have been set up in Nevada with the help of Mossack Fonseca are completely within the bounds of investigation into stolen funds from Argentina’s people.  Mossack Fonseca can try to hide in its “shell,” but it continues to lose in court.  The truth is going to come out.  Where will it lead?