The screening review of 11.4 million documents from the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca, known worldwide as “The Panama Papers” has enabled access to thousands of related Nicaragua files, which have been reviewed by a Confidencial team for four months.
In coordination with more than 80 media outlets from around the world, under the leadership of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ, for its acronym in English), Confidencial’s part of this research is still in process, and in the case of Nicaragua, here are some preliminary findings:
- Nicaragua is mentioned directly in at least 8,717 signature files Mossack Fonseca, including 6,524 post offices, 1,518 and 245 PDF scanned documents, and other files in different formats.
- The number of mentions of Nicaragua is one of the lowest in the world and the penultimate data review compared to other Central American countries.
- Panama, home of the scandal, is mentioned in 4.4 million files; followed by Guatemala with 370.293 mentions; El Salvador, with 96.607; Costa Rica, with 75.888, and finally: Nicaragua and then Honduras, with 8,503 mentions.
- These 8,717 mentions apply only to customers, companies or shareholders who facilitated the transaction as the contact person with a specific address in Nicaragua, while the analysis of the database which Confidencial has worked with have identified other Nicaraguans with addresses outside of Nicaragua and through foundations registered offshore, corporations and companies registered in other countries recognized as tax havens.
The first findings of “The Panama Papers” Nicaraguans specifically led to 10 customers and 12 companies, including mainly business people and business groups that have developed business or investments outside the country. In this first preliminary list.also appears the name of at least one person linked to political activity in the country.
The list is now available to the public is not yet exhaustive. It is part of an ongoing investigation which still needs further corroboration and journalistic work.
The creation of offshore companies is a legal activity, and being registered in Panama and other countries through the firm Mossack Fonseca does not necessarily imply that the aforementioned have done some illegal activity such as tax evasion or money laundering, only that at some point they have registered a corporation, company or foundation with Panamanian law.
Confidencial has a professional responsibility to determine the nature of the links of these people and companies with Mossack Fonseca and activities, providing the context in which these were developed and their current situation, for which we are applying in each case the version of those responsible which they managed the creation of these offshore companies, including cases that Confidencial has identified beyond reviewing the list only connects directly to Nicaragua.
Mossack Fonseca has over 40 years of history in Panama and globally has built a reputation as one of the five largest global provider of offshore companies briefcase or -more than 320,000-, keeping an offshore secrecy that covers more than 40 offices worldwide. The revelation of “The Panama Papers” has shown many examples in various countries, where offshore companies have been used to hide illicit capital sources and also to evade tax obligations.
The Aleman case
In Nicaragua, the name of this firm is not unknown in business and political circles. Mossack Fonseca was linked to the “Huaca” scandal of former President Arnoldo Alemán, accused of corruption by the government of Enrique Bolaños in 2002, and was identified as the firm from which the companies that served to transfer millions of dollars were recorded, causing Panama to accuse him of the crime of money laundering in 2009, but was later acquitted.
The relation of Aleman in companies and foundations registered in Panama was covered up by employees of Mossack Fonseca listed as directors and officers of their societies. Such is the case, for example of Panamanian society Nicstate Development SA, incorporated in Panama in July 1999 with a board of directors chaired by Leticia Montoya, an office worker of the Panamanian law firm that according to the documents of Mossack Fonseca signed the directives of a total of 10,967 companies created by the firm, ranking her as the second most frequenlty used “name lender” by the firm.
The name of Leticia Montoya was widely reported after the unveiling of “Huaca” Aleman and its mention in other scandals has led to testify before different courts on more than one occasion. This same person appears on most of the boards of companies and offshore companies registered at the request of Nicaragua, Confidential currently have analyzed, and even is in incorporated in documents after the dates of the ex-president’s scandal.
In June 2000, Mossack Fonseca resigned as registered agent of Nicstate Developmet SA and its employees signed their resignation as directors and officers of the company. However, several years later still he had a customer who asked the firm with suspicion and concern about the case.
In late July 2009, a Uruguayan client had trouble opening an account at a bank because of the relationship that the law was made in the case of “huaca” of former president Aleman. The Panamanian company had to attach a copy of the signed and notarized waivers nine years ago to give “peace of mind” to the customer. “It was published online and is old news… is there something to show that this research was dismissed?” Was the question that was titled this post exchange. “The publication that you sent us is very old and we disclaim any corporations that were the subject of that scandal,” added one of the lawyers in messages to Confidencial.
But the mention of law in the scandal did not prevent other Nicaraguans maintain and develop relations with it, including some law firms that received visits from representatives of Mossack Fonseca and in most cases according to files recorded in the revisados- expressed interest in working with this. Specifically, at least one of them, GVC Partners, is Mossack Fonseca client broker in Nicaragua, whose status until the date of the leak of documents, last year, was active.
Some of the companies are offshore
The following is a partial list of companies related to offshore Nicaragua in “The Panama Papers” of the firm Mossack Fonseca. The companies are cited according to the chronological order in which they were registered.
According to the files that lead directly to customers Mossack Fonseca in Nicaragua, the first two companies with Nicaraguan link were registered with the Panamanian law were Welmorelle Investments and Finance Corp SA,registered in Panama on November 23, 1978, and While Sands Holdings Corp, also registered in Panama on 13 June 1983. Both companies were managed by the same intermediary, the Italian Alberto Caprotti – a cattleman now deceased resident in Nicaragua. In the system of Panamanian law both companies are inactive since March 1990.
The third company on the list is King Caribbean Enterprise Corp., registered in May 1988 in the British Virgin Islands. Although society is also inactive since early November 2007, it was used for almost nine years, with a $ 50,000 initial authorized capital, the minimum amount for registration of a company in that jurisdiction. The link of this society in Nicaragua is Maria Auxiliadora Reyes Mejia. The database was released yesterday by the ICIJ-which is also available from Confidencial – shows that connection.
The next company on the list is Montforte Finance SA, incorporated in the Register of Panama in May 1990 and inactive since May 2002. The broker it was William Huper Arguello, Nicaraguan economist and businessman, ex finance vice minister in the eighties , now deceased.
In May 1992, this time with jurisdiction in the British Virgin Islands, was registered society Jadehouse Consultants Ltd, by intermediaries Alvaro Baltodano (now presidential commissioner for investment) and Carlos Aguilar. The company was disabled in November 1993.
In June 1998, through another Nicaraguan intermediary registered with contact information society in the country Creative Engineering SA. agent Mossack Fonseca had it registered until the end of December 2003 , when they applied for his change agent to another law firm also domiciled in Panama. The representative of the company is the entrepreneur and investor Manuel Ignacio Lacayo Gil. According to the documents analyzed, the corporation was used for activities related to real estate business and Lacayo also was its guardian and administrator of activities.
In December 1998 the offshore company is registered Laurel Properties Inc. The company gives a general power to Lashtar Mohamed, a citizen of Libyan origin naturalized Nicaraguan, who has served as department official FSLN ‘s international relations, and MP for this match against Parlacen. Lasthar was mentioned in diplomatic cables leaked by Wikileaks as the liaison between the commander Daniel Ortega and former leader of Libya, Colonel Moammar Gaddafi died. The partnership was dissolved in March 2001.
The most recent list companies were registered in the last sixteen. It is Mellancamp Equities SA, registered in Panama in March 2000. The broker it is Alfredo Velez, entrepreneur of the national poultry industry. Later in the record Mossack Fonseca a “change agent” is recorded, indicating that the company is handled by another firm.
Another Nicaraguan society in the archives of Mossack Fonseca is Onfair Holding Corp, also with jurisdiction in Panama and registration February 2006, requested by the Executive Alvaro Torres Cerna.
Also recently they are the two societies and registered between October and November 2006 by the Canadian citizen Eric Winter, who identified with the firm as an investor and offered different addresses in Nicaragua foundation. Corporations are Investment Council, Inc. and Offshore Mutual Investments Inc. shareholders SL Foundation, another company to its name, all with active status in the documents of Panamanian law.
The most recent of listed companies is Coastview Development Inc., registered in Panama in June 2012, but inactive since July 2015. This is the company registered by the firm GVC Partners, which is listed as a shareholder Gaston Alexander McKnight, linked casino operations in the country.
The analysis of the documents by Confidential Mossack Fonseca also leads society Cadewell Investments Group Corp, registered in Panama in June 2009, with three carriers of actions that facilitated a unique address in Nicaragua. Some of these carriers are also linked to other companies: Milan Equites SA, registered in February 2003 in Panama, and Quassar Comercial SA, registered in the same jurisdiction in April 2007. All members of one family: Alvarez Villacorta.
Another Nicaraguan Mario Jose Arguello Guzman, next to the Portuguese citizen Daniel Tavares is listed as a shareholder and beneficiary of three different companies registered in the British Virgin Islands, through a firm located in Panama, which contacted Mossack Fonseca. Petfords is Global SA, registered on 30 April 2014;Golden Group Panama, SA and KMA Panama SA, registered in July of the same year, active since.
In documents Mossack Fonseca also records the creation of offshore companies and foundations promoted by residents Nicaraguan businessmen in other countries in the region.
In June 2002, Mossack Fonseca part of the British Virgin Islands, Fogel Group Corporation at the request of Fogel Guatemala, home to the other beneficiaries of the company, family all of Edmundo Tefel (based in Nicaragua) and are: Reinaldo, Gustavo and Edbert Tefel Steps, Edmundo Tefel Farrer and Enrique Tefel Robelo.
The business group associated with Ceguel Laboratorios SA, represented by Eugenio Guerrero Lugo, listed as client Mossack Fonseca, recording four companies offshore in Panama, which remain active.
The four companies are: American Trading Associates SA (Amtrasa, 1999), Ariona Company Group Inc. (Ariona, 2005), Edward Resources Inc. (2007) and Orwell Global Corp (2002).
In 2000, from Costa Rica, it is managed through Mossack Fonseca, registration of offshore company Mesoamerica Media Ltd and other companies associated with the same investor group Mesoamerica, which initially listed as partner and manager, the Nicaraguan businessman Jaime Montealegre Lacayo.
Montealagre also appeared as a representative of the offshore Lochfield Broackboard Trading and Business,dedicated to real estate in the Dominican Republic, and is associated with the creation of several private foundations, as Atwood Foundation, managed by Mossack Fonseca.
Based on the information gathered in the registration of Mossack Fonseca, Confidencial has asked the owners and managers of these companies offshore relevant information relating to its objectives, registration, operations and tax obligations, and taking into account legitimate public interest of each case and transparency standards that are required to maintain. The information will be published in the coming days.