Jürgen Rolf Dieter Mossack
20 March 1948
Fürth, Bavaria, Germany
|Residence||Panama City, Panama|
|Alma mater||Universidad Católica Santa María La Antigua|
|Known for||co-founder of Mossack Fonseca|
Jürgen Rolf Dieter Mossack (born 20 March 1948) is a German-born Panamanian lawyer and the co-founder of Mossack Fonseca, a former law firm headquartered in Panama City which had more than 40 offices worldwide. The firm gained global notoriety in 2016 when it found itself at the centre of the so-called Panama Papers affair, which uncovered the activities of the offshore finance industry. According to the leaked papers, Mossack Fonseca set up more than 214,000 shell companies around the world, some of which were found to have been used for illegal purposes, including fraud and tax evasion. In March 2018, the firm announced it was shutting down.
Mossack was born in Fürth, Bavaria, Germany, on 20 March 1948. His father, Erhard Mossack, was a mechanical engineer who had served as a combat soldier with the rank of Rottenführer (senior corporal) in the Waffen-SS, the armed wing of the Nazi Party's Schutzstaffel, during World War II. According to the Center for Public Integrity, U.S. intelligence files shows that he approached the CIA while later living in Panama, volunteering to become a US intelligence asset in Panama.
When Jürgen Mossack was 13 he moved with his father and the rest of his family to Panama. Once in Panama Erhard Mossack offered his services to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for spying on Communist activity in Cuba. Germany's Federal Intelligence Service, said in 2016, when contacted by journalists, that they had documents related to Erhard Mossack but would not share any information, owing to possible security risks.
In 1975, Mossack worked as a lawyer in London before returning to Panama to start a firm in 1977. Mossack’s practice only became Mossack Fonseca in 1986, when it merged with the firm run by Ramón Fonseca Mora, a Panamanian novelist, lawyer, and politician. They built a global group of 600 employees and 46 subsidiaries, across countries including the Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong, Switzerland, Jersey, Luxembourg, and the US, specifically the states of Wyoming, Florida, and Nevada. In March 2018, the firm shut down in the wake of its involvement in the Panama Papers affair.
Mossack is a member of the International Bar Association, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, the Panama Bar Association; the International Maritime Association; and the Maritime National Association. Mossack’s holdings, according to the files obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), include a teak plantation and other real estate, an executive helicopter, a yacht named Rex Maris and a collection of gold coins.
On 3 April 2016, leaked documents from the company's private archive, dubbed the "Panama Papers", revealed detailed information on more than 214,000 offshore companies, including the identities of shareholders and directors. Mossack told the Wall Street Journal that the intermediary banks that his firm worked with — and who represent the final recipients of the shell companies — should have done better reviews of their clients: “Our brand needs to be protected. We feel the best way to protect the brand is by doing things ourselves and not rely on others.”
According to court papers filed on 15 October 2019, Mossack and Fonseca "are the subjects of an FBI Investigation in the Southern District of New York" and are "defending criminal charges against them in Panama."
News stories in April 2016 established that the Panamanian consul in Frankfurt was using the Panama@mossfon.com email address and questioned whether he should be doing so. Mossack's brother Peter served as Honorary Consul of Panama in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, from 2010 to 16 April 2016.
Mossack Fonseca was linked to a corruption investigation (Operation Car Wash) in Brazil into bribes paid to politicians by companies doing business with the state-run oil company, Petrobras. Investigators began focusing on the law firm after finding an array of apartments in the names of relatives of an imprisoned politician, the New York Times reported. Both Mossack and Fonseca were arrested in February 2017 and were released on bail the following April. They each paid $500,000.
Mossack has one son, Michael, and four daughters, Karin, Jennifer, Andrea, and Nicole. The latter two have been covered in the Panamanian press since at least 2003 for showjumping. His daughter, Jennifer, worked in his firm and was point of connection for a lobbyist of the Center for Freedom and Prosperity. Mossack is married to Leydelises Pérez de Mossack, herself a legal professional.
In popular culture
In 2016, Steven Soderbergh announced he would produce a film about the Panama Papers affair. The comedy-drama The Laundromat premiered at the Venice Film Festival on 1 September 2019. Mossack and Fonseca tried to block the film's release on Netflix by filing a defamation lawsuit against Netflix in October 2019, arguing that the ongoing FBI investigation and possible trial in New York as well as their defence against criminal charges in Panama could be negatively prejudiced by the way they are portrayed in The Laundromat. A judge ruled that the case was filed in the wrong court, transferring it to Los Angeles. With a court decision still pending, the film was made available for streaming by Netflix on October 18, 2019. In the film, Mossack is portrayed by Academy Award winner Gary Oldman.
- "Mossack Fonseca": Die Fließband-Fabrik für Briefkastenfirmen. Tagesschau, accessed 23 October 2019. (in German)
- "The Panama Papers: Exposing the Rogue Offshore Finance Industry". ICIJ. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
- Slawson, Nicola (2018-03-14). "Mossack Fonseca law firm to shut down after Panama Papers tax scandal". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
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- Tobin, Andrew. "Law firm at heart of 'Panama Papers' leak owned by Nazi's son". The Times of Israel. Retrieved 2016-04-05.
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- "Vicepresidente y Canciller Varela se reúne con el Consejo Nacional de Relaciones Exteriores". 21 Dec 2010. Archived from the original on 24 April 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
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- León, Guadalupe (7 April 2016). "Jürgen Mossack renunció al Consejo Nacional de Relaciones Exteriores". La Estrella de Panamá. La Estrella de Panamá. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- "Mossack Fonseca & Co., S.A. et al v. Netflix Inc., Docket No. 3:19-cv-01618 (D. Conn. Oct 15, 2019), Court Docket". www.bloomberglaw.com. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
- "Mossack Milking Varela Connection for own Benefit". Panamá América. April 15, 2016. Retrieved May 15, 2016.
- "DEPARTAMENTO CONSULAR DE LA DGPE MINISTERIO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES GUIA CONSULAR (actualizada al 6 de abril 2016)" (PDF). MINISTERIO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES. MINISTERIO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES panama. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 April 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- "DEPARTAMENTO CONSULAR DE LA DGPE MINISTERIO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES GUIA CONSULAR (AGOSTO 2013)" (PDF). MINISTERIO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES. MINISTERIO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES panama. Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 October 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- "DEPARTAMENTO CONSULAR DE LA DGPE MINISTERIO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES GUIA CONSULAR (Febrero 2011)" (PDF). MINISTERIO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES. MINISTERIO DE RELACIONES EXTERIORES panama. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 March 2016. Retrieved 7 April 2016.
- "Ministerialblatt (MBl. NRW.) Ausgabe 2016 Nr. 25 vom 11.10.2016 Seite 607 bis 666". recht.nrw.de. Ministerium des Inneren des Landes Nordrhein-Westfalen. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
- Hennigan, Tom (October 7, 2017). "Operation Car Wash: Brazil's endemic corruption laid bare". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2019-11-05.
- "Mossack & Fonseca deeply entrenched in Foreign Service". April 8, 2016.
- "Detained partners of law firm at the heart of Panama Papers scandal granted bail". DW.COM. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
- teamelanpanama (29 July 2014) Andrea & Nicole Mossack YouTube, retrieved 5 April 2016
- Staff (21 November 2003) Hermanas Mossack se destacan La Prensa / Deportes, retrieved 5 April 2016
- "Mossack Fonseca: inside the firm that helps the super-rich hide their money". The Guardian. 8 April 2016. Retrieved 7 May 2016.
- "El otro secreto de los papeles de Panamá". elmundo.es (in Spanish). 2016-04-10. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
- "Esposa de Mossack pide a Panamá garantías judiciales en caso". Revista Estrategia & Negocios (in Spanish). Retrieved 2019-11-04.
- Martha Hamilton (1 April 2016) Papeles de Panamá-Mossack Fonseca, un bufete global Univision, retrieved 5 April 2016, "Club Unión, donde su hija Nicole celebró sus quince años en 2008".
- Staff (28 July 2015), Concierto de la Sinfonía de las Américas, Nicole Mossack y Tomás Altamirano La Prensa-Sociales, retrieved 5 April 2016
- McNary, Dave (2016-07-07). "Panama Papers Movie in the Works From Steven Soderbergh". Variety. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
- Brooks, Xan (2019-09-01). "The Laundromat review: Gary Oldman spins lies to Meryl Streep in sparkling comedy". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
- Spencer, Samuel (2019-10-18). ""The Laundromat" on Netflix: What are the Panama Papers". Newsweek. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
- Press, The Associated (2019-10-18). "Netflix's 'The Laundromat' Goes On as Court Transfers Lawsuit". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-11-04.
- "The Panama Papers". www.netflix.com. Retrieved 2019-11-04.