WASHINGTON - The Justice Department announced charges on Tuesday against four people, including a U.S. citizen, whose alleged role in a worldwide conspiracy was unearthed after the Panama Papers investigation.
Those charged include Ramses Owens, 50, a Panamanian citizen; Dirk Brauer, 54, a German citizen; Richard Gaffey, of Medfield, Mass.; and Harald Joachim Von Der Goltz, 81, a German citizen.
They face a slew of charges, including wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy to commit tax evasion.
"They had a playbook to repatriate un-taxed money into the U.S. banking system," said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman, a prosecutor for the Southern District of New York. "Now, their international tax scheme is over, and these defendants face years in prison for their crimes."
The charges stem from the 2016 Panama Papers investigation, which included 11.5 million leaked documents and exposed how the rich and famous exploit offshore tax shelters. The investigation was led by a coalition of 100 media organizations and won the Pulitzer Prize, journalism's highest honor, in 2016.
Federal prosecutors say the charges revolve around the law firm Mossack Fonseca, a secretive Panamanian firm that created offshore corporations and helped world leaders hide assets.
The Justice Department details that Owens and Brauer, for at least 17 years, worked with clients of the firm to hide assets by opening fraudulent companies in areas with strict bank secrecy laws.
Von Der Goltz, a client of the firm and a U.S. resident, was assisted in hiding money in offshore accounts by Gaffey, prosecutors said in an indictment.
The indictment may also be a forecasting of additional charges. A person referred to as "Client-1" is mentioned several times and the Justice Department says this individual was able to hide income for years with the held of to Mossack Fonseca.
Three of the four charged by U.S. prosecutors have been arrested but Owens remains at large.