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If Law Firms are Right, the “Panama Papers” Aren’t Going Away

April 22, 2016

In the wake of revelations that confidential data maintained by the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca had been hacked – potentially exposing sensitive information from thousands of companies and individuals – a number of North American law firms have stepped forward to offer recommendations to clients potentially affected by the breach.  In Lexis Securities Mosaic’s Law Firm Memos database, we find seven client alerts dedicated to the “Panama Papers” story, with several others at least alluding to the unfolding scandal.

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For example, earlier this week Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld published “The Panama Papers: Managing Corporate Risk and Uncertainty,” which identifies potential risk exposure in the areas of tax, anti-money laundering laws, congressional investigations, private litigation, and a corporation’s general reputation. The commentators at Akin Gump advise that companies take a proactive approach, including “review[ing] the names of the parties already released to the public to determine whether they are on the list or have any ties with those parties,” examining whether they have ties to Mossack Fonseca itself, and establishing a system to review further information as it is released.

If companies indeed proceed with an abundance of caution as Akin Gump recommends, it seems possible that those making regular SEC filings may deem it prudent to disclose, in their risk factors, connections to Mossack Fonseca or the firm’s past clients and associates (whether or not those connections have already been made public via the leak).  But none has done so yet, as a review of the Securities Mosaic Risk Factors page suggests.

That’s not to say the specter of the “Panama Papers” doesn’t haunt public company disclosure.  A search of our SEC Filings page with the phrase “Mossack Fonseca” in the full text search yields 76 results, distributed among 24 companies with apparent connections to the firm.  These include some U.S. companies as well as companies incorporated in tax havens such as Bermuda and the Virgin Islands.

We’ll keep you posted on any developments in this story as it progresses.

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