A former client of the law firm Mossack Fonseca became the first individual to plead guilty to charges stemming from a trove of leaked documents, commonly known as the Panama Papers.
Harald Joachim von der Goltz, a former 82 years old US resident, pleaded guilty in a Manhattan federal court to a nine-count criminal indictment, which included charges of conspiracy to evade taxes and commit money laundering and wire fraud, The Wall Street journal reported.
Goltz, who had initially pleaded not guilty to the government's charges and was scheduled for trial on March 9, agreed to plead guilty to the government's full set of charges instead of reaching a plea deal with prosecutors, a federal judge said on February 18.
A lawyer for Goltz, Daniel Koffmann of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, declined to comment.
Under the US sentencing guidelines, Goltz was sentenced to face between 151 and 181 months in prison and a fine of between $35,000 and $350,000, US District Judge Barbara Moses said, citing a letter submitted by prosecutors.
The former businessman was charged as part of a federal investigation sparked by the internal files of the Panama-based 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.
Three others were charged in 2018 alongside Goltz, including Dirk Brauer, a German citizen who worked as an investment manager at an associated firm; Richard Gaffey, a US citizen and an accountant who allegedly helped Goltz and another US taxpayer evade taxes; and Ramses Owens, a Panamanian citizen and a former partner at Mossack Fonseca.
Prosecutors last year said Brauer had been extradited to Germany, where he faces criminal charges. A lawyer for Brauer didn't return a request for comment.
Gaffey has pleaded not guilty to the government's charges and is scheduled for trial in March. His lawyer didn't return a request for comment.
A lawyer for Owens, who is facing criminal charges in Panama, didn't return a request for comment.