World Bulletin / News Desk
The founders of the law firm at the center of the "Panama Papers" scandal were being held Friday as part of a probe into a sprawling graft case involving Brazilian construction group Odebrecht.
Ramon Fonseca Mora and Juergen Mossack, named partners of the Mossack Fonseca firm, were put in preventive detention late Thursday by Panamanian authorities, one of their attorneys said.
Chief prosecutor Kenia Procell said the law firm was suspected of money-laundering and forming "a criminal organization that sought to hide assets and money of doubtful origin."
She alleged the firm also "got rid of evidence" implicating people in Brazil's "Car Wash" corruption scandal, in which the Brazilian national oil company Petrobras allegedly gave Odebrecht and other contractors inflated contracts in return for bribes.
Mossack Fonseca's attorney, Elias Solano, said there was a "lack of evidence" supporting the allegations.
On Thursday, as he turned up at the prosecutors' office to answer questions, Fonseca told reporters that Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela -- a former friend -- had confided in him that he had accepted "donations" from Odebrecht.
Varela denied the accusation, saying "there were no donations from the Odebrecht company" to his 2014 electoral campaign.
The vast data leak from the Mossack Fonseca law firm detailed how the world's wealthy stashed assets in offshore companies.
Several countries in Latin America, among them Panama, Mexico, Argentina, Peru and Uruguay, are carrying out investigations into bribes paid by Odebrecht.
In December, the Brazilian construction company agreed with the US Justice Department to pay a world record $3.5-billion fine after admitting it paid $788 million in bribes to win fat construction contracts in 12 countries.
More revelations are expected soon because current and former Odebrecht executives have signed tell-all plea deals in Brazil in exchange for lighter sentences.
In Panama, ex-president Ricardo Martinelli's son and brother are under investigation.
European Commission nominated to represent EU in Brexit talks; negotiations expected to begin after UK election on June 8
Before his election on May 7, Macron had spoken in favour of cancelling part of Greece's debt mountain, equivalent to 180 percent of annual output, to give the country a chance to recover from its economic depression.
Young Tunisians continue to stage demonstrations near country’s southern oilfields to demand more job opportunities
Turkey is strategic partner of Georgia, Defense Minister Levan Izoria says ahead of trilateral summit in Batumi city
Street protests called by leftist groups around the country also appeared to have had only a modest impact, further easing the sense of intense crisis for the center-right president.
A crowd estimated at 10,000 people by local media waved European Union flags and chanted "Democracy! Freedom for Hungary!" as they made their way toward the parliament building, escorted by police cars.
"I hope first of all that asylum seekers and refugees can be taken out of detention centres," UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said after visiting one centre in the Libyan capital.
In a highly anticipated speech to dozens of leaders of Muslim countries in Saudi Arabia, Trump lashed out at Iran and softened his tone on Islam by rejecting the idea of a battle between religions.
Barnier will lock horns with Britain's Brexit minister David Davis who has predicted "the talks will be tough and at times even confrontational," despite a mutual desire for good future ties.
Trump's visit is part of his first trip abroad as president and follows an initial stop in Saudi Arabia, where he urged Islamic leaders to take a stand against violence committed in the name of religion.
The bus was carrying members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church returning from a retreat in the Pacific coast town of Pijijiapan, local police said.
Ministers from the 19-member single currency bloc must confront the sensitive topic at talks in Brussels after Greek lawmakers fulfilled the eurozone's latest demands for painful reforms in a vote last Thursday.
Disasters displaced three times more people than conflicts, with most of the 24 million people affected hit by sudden-onset weather hazards such as floods, storms, wildfires and severe winter conditions.
Soldiers from Angola who were hired by the South African government during the apartheid-era to fight communism across southern Africa, including in Namibia and Zambia now face ebilitating conditions
Pedro Sanchez to helm divided PSOE, threatening conservative minority government