News

All five magic circle law firms named in new ‘Panama Papers’ database

By on
13

Top City firms named as a result of Mossack Fonseca leak and further investigations by press

Lead2

All five magic circle law firms have been named in an online database that reveals the identities of thousands of companies connected to the Panama Papers leak.

According to the website — which has been produced by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) — it contains information on “who’s behind almost 320,000 offshore companies and trusts”. Information has been gathered as a direct result of the data breach suffered by Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca and further investigations into offshore activity undertaken by the ICIJ.

Legal Cheek has since discovered that Linklaters, Freshfields, Clifford Chance, Slaughter and May and Allen & Overy are all named by the site, alongside a host of other leading firms.

A search of the database reveals documents linked to Clifford Chance’s London, Dubai, France, US and Hong Kong offices. According to the site these files were acquired as a result of the mass data breach suffered by Mossack Fonseca.

Lead1

Next up is Allen & Overy. According to the database, documents mentioning the firm’s London and Dubai offices were handed to journalists as a direct result of the Mossack Fonseca leak.

Lead1

Slaughter and May is also named on the site. An address in Hong Kong — that doesn’t appear to be the elite outfit’s office — appears alongside the firm’s name. However these files were were not directly linked to the data leak at Mossack Fonseca, and were discovered as a result of further investigations undertaken by journalists at the ICIJ.

SM

Global giant Linklaters’ name appears on the database too. The site gives the address of the magic circle firm’s Hong Kong office. The firm’s name wasn’t mentioned specifically in the leaked Mossack Fonseca files, but like Slaughter and May, documents containing the firm’s name were discovered by journalists as part of their wider investigation into offshore activity.

Links

Finally, Anglo-German outfit Freshfields — despite being spelt with a second capital “F” on the database — is also named. With no office address given — and again like Slaughter and May and Linklaters — files naming the elite outfit were acquired as a result of further investigations by journalists.

fres

The database — which went live at 7pm yesterday — stresses that there “are legitimate uses for offshore companies and trusts.” Furthermore the ICIJ makes explicitly clear to users of the site that individuals or companies named have not necessarily “broken the law or otherwise acted improperly”.

For those who haven’t been following the story, Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca was the victim of a major data breach. Millions of sensitive files were initially passed to the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which in turn enrolled the help of the ICIJ to sift through the masses of information.

Hitting headlines earlier this year, the documents showed how Mossack Fonseca — among other things — helped wealthy clients circumvent local tax laws. This subsequently led to the Prime Minister David Cameron fielding awkward questions regarding his father’s tax arrangements and the resignation of his Icelandic counterpart.

Last month alongside City outfits Simmons & Simmons and Holman Fenwick Willan, Child & Child — a private client law firm based in Knightsbridge — was named in leaked documents. Purporting to show how the firm helped the daughters of the Azerbaijan president set up a secret offshore company, Child & Child’s lawyers incorrectly claimed that their wealthy clients were not “politically exposed persons”. Under British rules anyone with a close association or connection with a senior political figure would be considered a PEP. Child & Child did not respond to Legal Cheek’s request for comment at the time.

Mossack Fonseca — which now has its own unofficial clothing range with the tagline “because taxes are for poor people” — maintains that it has done nothing wrong. Ramon Fonseca, the firm’s founding partner, insists the firm has operated beyond reproach for 40 years, suggesting that the Panamanian outfit had become the focus of a “witch-hunt”.

Legal Cheek contacted all five of the magic circle firms. Each declined to comment.

13 Comments

Anonymous

Providing that they act within a legal remit, there is nothing wrong with helping their clients to avoid tax!!

If you fail to understand this, you fail to understand the duty of a lawyer to their clients.

(37)(7)

Anonymous

We can act in the best interests of clients while at the same time personally believing the whole thing to be morally wrong.

(13)(6)

Anonymous

If you thought it was morally wrong you wouldn’t be a corporate lawyer would you?

(16)(5)

Anonymous

Hypocrisy at its finest.

(2)(1)

Tim

Why am I not surprised? They’re very clever but have the emotional intelligence of a zombie.

(5)(13)

Fellow journo

Heh, how funny: you blast the MC, but you completely forgot to mention King & Wood Mallesons or White & Case.

Oops, should have said that, Tommy and Alex might get their sponsorship £££ revoked.

A bit of objective reporting please.

(26)(1)

The Dongbangs Feat. Minerva

Alex’s too busy trousering all that top law firm dosh son, can’t expect no objectivity there.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

White & Case don’t sponsor LC.

(0)(0)

A Barrister

Any chance of some proper reporting here LC? Presumably if you clicked on the links there might be a goldmine of interesting stories, rather than just “Big UK Law Firms had dealings with Big Panamanian Law Firm”?

Surely it would be better to turn out a real exclusive pointing our that firm X did something specific, rather than that they were just named in the papers?

(15)(0)

Anonymous

It was only live at 7pm last night! I’m sure they would love a story like that.

(3)(0)

Anonymous

I guess the headline: “Top law firms act within remit of the law” probably wouldn’t attract as many views…

Forgive my hyperbole, but these Panama papers are the greatest non-story of our time, these firms have done little more than act within the law and offer tax efficient solutions to mitigate their clients tax liability. To do otherwise would be to act negligently.

Please stop.

(1)(1)

Anonymous

The Nazis acted in accordance with Germany’s law at the time. Ditto for Apartheid.

“But it’s legal” is a ridiculous argument to shut down a moral debate.

(2)(2)

Anonymous

Actually only CC and A&O are named in the Panama Papers. The other magic circle firms appear in the Offshore Leaks database, which is from 2013…. Awkward for you LC.

(0)(0)

Comments are closed.