February 10, 2017 / 4:27 AM / 5 months ago

Panama raids Mossack Fonseca over Odebrecht bribery scandal

2 Min Read

A car from the Attorney General's Office is seen outside Mossack Fonseca law firm office during a raid for the Odebrecht corruption case in Panama City, Panama February 9, 2017.Eduardo Grimaldo

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) - Panamanian prosecutors raided the offices of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the center of the "Panama Papers" scandal, seeking possible links to Brazilian engineering company Odebrecht, the attorney general's office said on Thursday.

"Raid of offices of law firm that created limited liability companies in Brazil linked to #LavaJato #PanamaPapers," the attorney general's office said on Twitter, without providing more details.

The Panama Papers, which consist of millions of documents stolen from Mossack Fonseca and leaked to the media in April 2016, provoked a global scandal after showing how the rich and powerful used offshore corporations to evade taxes.

Ramon Fonseca, a partner at Mossack Fonseca, denied that his firm had a connection to Odebrecht [ODBES.UL], which has admitted to bribing officials in Panama and other countries to obtain government contracts in the region between 2010 and 2014.

"Mossack Fonseca has no relationship with Odebrecht, nor with any other Lava Jato company," Fonseca told reporters, referring to companies involved in the so-called Lava Jato probe centered on Brazil's state-run oil company Petróleo Brasileiro SA.

Ramon Fonseca, founding partner of law firm Mossack Fonseca, gestures as he talks to the media as he arrives at the Public Ministry office for the Odebrecht corruption case in Panama City, Panama February 9, 2017.Eduardo Grimaldo

"They're using me to divert attention," he said.

Ramon Fonseca, founding partner of law firm Mossack Fonseca, talks to the media as he arrives at the Public Ministry office for the Odebrecht corruption case in Panama City, Panama February 9, 2017.Eduardo Grimaldo

Fonseca also accused Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela of directly receiving money from Odebrecht, Latin America's largest engineering company.

"He (Varela) told me that he had accepted donations from Odebrecht because he could not fight with everyone," Fonseca said, without giving more details.

At a media conference, Varela denied he received donations from Odebrecht, saying he would make all donations to his political campaign public on Friday.

Odebrecht did not respond immediately to requests for comment.

Reporting by Elida Moreno; Writing by Natalie Schachar; Editing by Paul Tait

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