Panama’s courts closed out the high-profile Panama Papers trial Friday, with judge Baloisa Marquínez acquitting all 28 people who faced trial over their alleged role in setting up shell companies used in bribery and corruption scandals in Brazil and Germany.

That included Jurgen Mossack, one of the founders of the now-shuttered law firm Mossack Fonseca that featured prominently in the Panama Papers investigation. The other founder, Ramon Fonseca, died in May before the trial concluded, resulting in the dismissal of the legal action against him.

The 85-hour-long trial took place in April, almost exactly eight years after the Panama Papers investigation was first published, and included a cast of three prosecutors and 18 defense lawyers. The judge heard from 27 witnesses and saw the presentation of more than 50 pieces of evidence, La Prensa reported.

While Marquínez originally had a term of 30 working days to issue a ruling, the Panamanian judicial code allowed her an extra day for every hundred pages on file. A representative of the court told ICIJ more than 300,000 pages were filed — which, in theory, meant the judgment could have taken as much as 23 years, per Panamanian law.

The prosecution had requested the maximum sentence for Jurgen Mossack, the now-deceased Ramón Fonseca Mora, Dick Brauer, Axel Gauster and Hans Joachin Kohlsdorf, as perpetrators of money laundering, La Prensa reported. Fifteen others were charged as primary accomplices and five as secondary accomplices. The prosecution requested an acquittal for three others: Reyna Chong, Itzel Fuentes and Zacgary Lundgren, La Prensa reported.

The Panama Papers investigation remains one of the largest cross-border journalistic collaborations in history and has become shorthand for financial chicanery and political corruption in the public imagination.

Based on a trove of 11.5 million files leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared with ICIJ, the investigation exposed the offshore financial secrets of world leaders and other powerful public figures, triggering protests, government probes and the resignation of Iceland’s prime minister.

In 2022, both Mossack Fonseca founders — Ramón Fonseca Mora and Jürgen Mossack — were acquitted in a separate Panamanian money laundering case. Both repeatedly denied any involvement in illegal activities.

“While the court did not hold these defendants accountable, the enduring impact of our investigation persists,” Gerard Ryle, ICIJ’s executive director said in a statement. “By revealing hidden truths, as we did in the Panama Papers, we empower the public with information they need to demand accountability and push for reforms.”

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