The British Virgin Islands (BVI) has fined law firm Mossack Fonseca $440,000 – the biggest fine in the territory’s history – following a probe into Panama Papers leaks.
The BVI Financial Services Commission (FSC) identified eight breaches of anti-money laundering and terrorist financing codes and its regulatory code at the law firm.
The Panama Papers investigation, based on a trove of 11.5 million leaked files from inside Mossack Fonseca, exposed the inner workings of a secretive financial system used by world leaders, wealthy individuals, drug lords, fraudsters and more. More than half of the offshore companies in the leaked files were incorporated in the BVI.
Premier and Finance Minister Orlando Smith said the investigation and fine against Mossack Fonseca was evidence of the government’s commitment to regulating the financial industry in the BVI and to working with other international authorities to ensure transparency in the system.
“Achieving this outcome in the face of intense international scrutiny is testament to the FSC’s conviction, dedication and willingness to conduct such a thorough investigation whilst holding to account those who fail to comply with the territory’s structure and regulations,” he said.
However, anti-corruption activists Transparency International said the penalty against Mossack Fonseca was “too little, too late” compared to the scale of the revelations in the Panama Papers and the harm caused by offshore financial secrecy.
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It was the fourth time Mossack Fonseca had been penalized by the BVI authority since 2012.