Massachusetts accountant pleads guilty to money laundering and conspiracy to defraud IRS in Panama Papers info case

Massachusetts accountant Richard Gaffey has pleaded guilty in federal court to charges he helped a client evade U.S. taxes in a case stemming from a trove of leaked documents known as the Panama Papers. Mr. Gaffey was scheduled to go to trial March 6 but instead he pleaded guilty Friday to an eight-count indictment that charged him with wire fraud, conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service, among other charges. According to the federal government, Mr. Gaffey helped clients evade U.S. taxes, including by obscuring their ownership of offshore shell companies and bank accounts holding tens of millions of dollars in investments, prosecutors said.

His guilty plea follows a plea by Harald von der Goltz, a former U.S. resident and one of the accountant’s former clients. Lawyers for Mr. von der Goltz didn’t immediately return a request for comment. Both were charged as part of a federal investigation sparked by the internal files of the Panama-based law firm 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. The U.S. Justice Department also charged two former employees of now-defunct Mossack Fonseca and an associated investment firm as part of the investigation.

Prosecutors last year said Dirk Brauer, a German citizen, had been extradited to Germany to face criminal charges there. Ramses Owens, a Panamanian citizen and a former Mossack Fonseca partner, faces criminal charges in Panama.

Jeffrey Newman represents whistleblowers in cases involving tax evasion and in SEC whistleblower cases and Medicare Fraud. Jeff@JeffNewmanlaw.com 617-823-3217