Mossack Fonseca, the Panamanian law firm which, according to leaked data, helped powerful politicians, companies, criminals and celebrities open offshore accounts, in order to evade taxes or launder their money, set up a subsidiary in Cyprus, an investigation into the website of the company registrar showed.
In 2003, the Panamanian law firm registered its subsidiary Mossack Fonseca (Cyprus) Ltd on May 26, 2003 with a registration number ΗΕ 138503, according to the company registrar’s website. On February 12, this year, the company filed an application to be struck off.
According to the registrar’s website, the Cyprus unit of Mossack Fonseca was located at 12, Dafnis street in Yergmasogia, a suburb of Limassol, in apartment 104. At the entrance of the building located at that address, called “Psilogeni,” there is no sign indicating that Mossack Fonseca maintains its offices there and several tenants interviewed said they were never aware of a company in their building. In addition, the Psilogeni block of flats has no apartment numbered 104.
The tenants also said that they didn’t know the names of the two directors of Mossack Fonseca (Cyprus) Ltd, Geoffrey Magistrate and Ioannis Despotidis. According to a document on the Mossack Fonseca website, Magistrate is a contact for the Panamanian law firm in Cyprus. The Athens-based auditor firm Despotidis & Associates is run by Ioannis Despotidis, according to the company’s website. Both Magistrate and Despotidis were unavailable for a comment.
Spyros Kokkinos, the head of the department of company registrar and official receiver said that, while the law prescribes that companies have to report their address while filing an application for registration, the registrar does not have the means to double-check whether the data submitted is correct. “It is up to the lawyers, accountants and other service providers to do their work properly,” he said in a telephone interview.
A further online search revealed that a Limassol-based company, Ergoserve which provides corporate and tax services, is working with Mosscack Fonseca. Ergoserve appears to be affiliated with the law firm Clerides, Anastasiou and Neofytou, as well as with audit company Isotax. Ergoserve, Isotax and the Clerides Anastasiou and Neofytou law firm maintain offices in the same building in Chrisoroiatissis & Kolokotroni street in Limassol.
According to Ergoserve’s website, cached by Google on January 22, 2016, Ergoserve is affiliated with Mossack Fonseca.
“And because Ergoserve is affiliated with the Mossack Fonseca Organisation, one of the largest corporate services providers with offices in more than 35 countries, we are able to offer our clients a truly worldwide company incorporation capability,” the Limassol-based company said.
Ergoserve, Isotax, and the Clerides, Anastasiou, and Neophytou law firm, all were unavailable for comment.