US Taxpayer Faces Prison After Panama Papers Guilty Plea

Prosecutors are seeking jail time for Harald Joachim von der Goltz, who said he was “profoundly sorry” as he pleaded guilty to a range of financial crimes.

Prosecutors are seeking a lengthy prison sentence for the first U.S. taxpayer charged with crimes as a result of the 2016 Panama Papers investigation.

Harald Joachim von der Goltz, an 82-year-old  dual German-Guatemalan citizen who lived in the United States from the mid-1980s until 2017, pleaded guilty last week to a range of financial crimes, including fraud and conspiracy to commit tax evasion and money laundering.

Von der Goltz was a long-time client of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm whose leaked files formed the basis of the Panama Papers.

In last week’s plea hearing, von der Goltz acknowledged having avoided taxes on investment income. Von der Goltz admitted that he falsely told investigators that his mother, who lived overseas and would not have to pay U.S. taxes, owned the investments.

“I’m profoundly sorry for my actions and for the harm I have caused not only to the United States but to the people I deceived, to my friends and most of all to my wife, my children, and other family members,” said von der Goltz.

“Harald Joachim von der Goltz went to extraordinary lengths to circumvent U.S. tax laws in order to maintain his wealth and hide it from the IRS,” said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman of the Southern District of New York.

“Using the specialized criminal services of global law firm Mossack Fonseca, von der Goltz set up shell companies and off-shore accounts to conceal millions of dollars.  Now, after years of concealment from the United States, von der Goltz has admitted guilt in a U.S. court and awaits sentencing that could result in a term in a U.S. prison.”

U.S. prosecutors said they will recommend von der Goltz spend up to 15 years in prison. Judge Richard M. Berman will sentence von der Goltz on 24 June.

ICIJ is following the case as it develops. For the major court filings, visit here. For rolling coverage, visit here.

Mining Billionaire Beny Steinmetz Bribery Trial Begins

Steinmetz and European, US advisers on trial for mining ‘corruption pact’ in West Africa

Jan 11, 2021

Judge rejects Panama Papers law firm’s libel case against Netflix over ‘The Laundromat’

Jan 04, 2021

Advocates celebrate major US anti-money laundering victory

Dec 11, 2020

Germany seeks arrest of Panama Papers lawyers

Oct 21, 2020
Road Harbour Panorama in the British Virgin Islands

Notorious tax haven British Virgin Islands to introduce public register of company owners

Oct 12, 2020
Dalia Grybauskaite, Former President of Lithuania, FACTI Co-chair, briefs reporters.

Global tax abuses, money laundering and corruption take heaviest toll on the world’s poor, UN report says

Sep 25, 2020
ICIJ is dedicated to ensuring all reports we publish are accurate. If you believe you have found an inaccuracy let us know.