By Dylan Tokar
A former client of the law firm Mossack Fonseca on Tuesday became the first individual to plead guilty in the U.S. to charges stemming from a trove of leaked documents that became known as the Panama Papers.
Harald Joachim von der Goltz, a former U.S. resident, pleaded guilty in a Manhattan federal court to a nine-count criminal indictment, which included charges of conspiracy to evade taxes and commit money laundering and wire fraud.
Mr. von der Goltz -- who had initially pleaded not guilty to the government's charges and was scheduled for trial on March 9 -- didn't reach a plea deal with prosecutors and instead agreed to plead guilty to the government's full set of charges, a federal judge said Tuesday.
A lawyer for Mr. von der Goltz, Daniel Koffmann of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, declined to comment.
Under U.S. sentencing guidelines, Mr. von der Goltz, who is 82 years old, faces between 151 and 181 months in prison and a fine of between $35,000 and $350,000, U.S. District Judge Barbara Moses said, citing a letter submitted by prosecutors.
The former businessman was charged as part of a federal investigation sparked by the internal files of the Panama-based Mossack Fonseca. The documents, which were published by a consortium of journalists in 2016, revealed that the firm had created hundreds of thousands of shell companies and offshore accounts for clients around the world.
Three others were charged in 2018 alongside Mr. von der Goltz, including Dirk Brauer, a German citizen who worked as an investment manager at an associated firm; Richard Gaffey, a U.S. citizen and an accountant who allegedly helped Mr. von der Goltz and another U.S. taxpayer evade taxes; and Ramses Owens, a Panamanian citizen and a former partner at Mossack Fonseca.
Prosecutors last year said Mr. Brauer had been extradited to Germany, where he faces criminal charges. A lawyer for Mr. Brauer didn't return a request for comment.
Mr. Gaffey has pleaded not guilty to the government's charges and is scheduled for trial in March. His lawyer didn't return a request for comment.
A lawyer for Mr. Owens, who is facing criminal charges in Panama, didn't return a request for comment.
Write to Dylan Tokar at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 18, 2020 17:12 ET (22:12 GMT)
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