Panama court acquits 28 people tied to Panama Papers, Operation Car Wash

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A Panamanian court has acquitted 28 people charged with money-laundering under cases linked to the Panama Papers and “Operation Car Wash” scandals, the country’s judicial branch said in a statement on Friday.

It did not provide names of the people who were acquitted.

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Judge Baloisa Marquinez ordered that precautionary measures be lifted against all the defendants, and said one criminal process was now canceled due to the death of an unnamed defendant.

Ramon Fonseca, who co-founded now defunct law firm Mossack Fonseca alongside German national Jurgen Mossack, died in May after being hospitalized since early April.

Mossack Fonseca entered the spotlight in 2016 after leaked confidential documents exposed accounts housed in tax havens linked to individuals including former Argentine President Mauricio Macri, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Argentine football star Lionel Messi.

Marquinez, who also ordered fines of 100 balboas ($100) each on 10 witnesses who did not comply with summonses, said evidence collected from Mossack Fonseca’s servers did not comply with the chain of custody.

Regarding Operation Car Wash, a massive anti-corruption probe that originated in Brazil, Marquinez ruled that it could not be determined that money from illicit sources had entered Panama from Brazil with the purpose of helping conceal crimes.

The investigation, which began in 2014, exposed sprawling corruption schemes across the region and sent dozens of Latin American political and business leaders to jail, including several former presidents.

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