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    In the "Panama Papers" scandal, Mossack Fonseca's digital archive revealed how influential figures create offshore businesses to safeguard assets. | Photo: Reuters

Published 14 March 2018

At least 150 investigations were opened in 79 countries to examine possible tax evasion and money laundering, according to the U.S.-based Center for Public Integrity.

The law firm at the heart of the 'Panama Papers' tax-evasion scandal toppling world leaders is shutting down operations, it has announced, citing negative press and "unwarranted action by authorities."

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"Reputational deterioration, the media campaign, the financial consequences and irregular actions by some Panamanian authorities have caused irreparable damage, resulting in the total ceasing of public operations at the end of this month," Mossack Fonseca said in a statement.

A smaller group will continue working to address requests from authorities and other public and private groups, the statement continued.

Last August, co-founder Jurgen Mossack acknowledged the firm had closed most of its offices abroad since the scandal plunged the business into crisis.

April 3, 2016 marked the beginning of the 'Panama Papers' — a leak of 11.5 million files from Mossack Fonseca's digital archive that revealed how wealthy and influential figures across the world had created offshore businesses to safeguard their assets.

The information was obtained by German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which shared it with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. It was released as a searchable database, with revelations still being unearthed.

Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was forced to resign after it was revealed his family had offshore accounts, while former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was disqualified from office for life after being implicated in the documents.

Other figures implicated included former British Prime Minister David Cameron, soccer player Lionel Messi, Argentina's President Mauricio Macri, Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar.

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