— The Erimtan Angle —

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More than a week ago now, the NYT‘s Nick Cumming, Bruce and Eric Liptonjune wrote that an “employee of the law firm at the center of the leaks of the Panama Papers, which have revealed offshore wealth held in secretive accounts worldwide, has been arrested here on charges of data theft, one of the employee’s lawyers, Romain Jordan, said on Wednesday [, 15 June 2016] It was not immediately clear what connection, if any, the person might have had with the Panama Papers, a trove of 11.5 million documents from a Panama-based law firm, Mossack Fonseca. A consortium of news organizations began publishing findings from the documents — some dating to the 1970s — in April [2016], and the disclosures have prompted investigations of politicians and other prominent figures around the world. On Wednesday, the Swiss newspaper Le Temps reported that an information technology employee in the Geneva office of Mossack Fonseca had been arrested on suspicion of stealing confidential information. Computer equipment was seized as part of the inquiry, Le Temps reported. Asked about the report, a spokesman for Claudio Mascotto, the chief prosecutor in Geneva, declined to comment. The spokesman said only that the office had opened a criminal investigation based on a complaint filed by Mossack Fonseca. The employee’s name was not made public, and the lawyer did not give his client’s name or provide any detail about him. Le Temps quoted a lawyer for Mossack Fonseca, Thierry Ulmann, as saying: ‘What we know is that the data were removed from his computer in Geneva and that this I.T. worker had full access privileges'”.[1]

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Thierry Ulmann told Le Temps that “[t]he law firm filed a complaint against the worker for illegal removal of data and for violating the confidentiality of the law firm”.[2] The Süddeutsche Zeitung‘s Bastian Obermayer “said on Wednesday [,15 June 2016] that the man arrested in Geneva was not his source who leaked the documents, but left open the possibility that there might be more than one person behind the leaks. In a phone interview, Mr. Obermayer said [furthermore] of the man arrested in Geneva, ‘We can say that it is not the person that we have been in contact with’, a statement he also made on Twitter”.[3] Obermayer then said that “[t]here is still a theoretical possibility that John Doe is many persons, and one of them might be this person”.

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AFP reports that ‘[t]he spokesman for the Geneva’s prosecutor’s office, Henri Della Casa, told AFP that “a criminal case has been opened . . . following a complaint by Mossack Fonseca.” He declined to comment on whether an arrest had been made. News of the detention was first given by the Swiss newspaper Le Temps, which said it had no information on whether the arrested individual was the so-called “John Doe” who has claimed credit for the unprecedented “Panama Papers” leak. Mossack Fonseca said in April [2016] that the leak was the result of a hack that came from foreign servers’.[4]

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[1] Nick Cumming, Bruce and Eric Liptonjune, “Employee of Panama Papers Law Firm, Mossack Fonseca, Is Arrested in Switzerland” New York Times (15 June 2016). http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/16/world/europe/employee-of-panama-papers-law-firm-mossack-fonseca-is-arrested-in-switzerland.html.

[2] Nick Cumming, Bruce and Eric Liptonjune, “Employee of Panama Papers Law Firm, Mossack Fonseca”.

[3] Nick Cumming, Bruce and Eric Liptonjune, “Employee of Panama Papers Law Firm, Mossack Fonseca”.

[4] “‘Panama Papers’ firm demands prosecution of suspect in Switzerland” AFP (18 June 2016). https://www.wort.lu/en/business/mossack-fonseca-panama-papers-firm-demands-prosecution-of-suspect-in-switzerland-5764ed8cac730ff4e7f62200.

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