Photographer: Ron Antonelli/Bloomberg

Goldman Sachs Gets Panama Request From New York Bank Regulator

  • DFS also orders three other banks to provide information
  • New wave of requests follows launch of Panama leaks database

Add Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to the list of banks under regulatory review over Panamanian shell companies.

New York’s Department of Financial Services has asked Goldman Sachs and three other banks to provide it with information about shell companies established through a Panamanian law firm, according to a person briefed on the matter. The other banks are BNP Paribas SA, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and Standard Chartered Plc, this person said.

The banks aren’t accused of wrongdoing. Spokesmen for Goldman Sachs and Standard Chartered declined to comment on the DFS request. The other banks did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

DFS issued a similar request to 13 other banks last month, after news agencies published articles about global banks that used the law firm Mossack Fonseca to set up shell companies for owners who wanted anonymity. The first set of articles, based on documents leaked from the law firm and shared with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, identified the banks that sponsored the most shell companies on behalf of their clients.

On Monday, the consortium made part of the so-called Panama Papers public and searchable on its website. Investigators at DFS found out through the database that Goldman and three other banks that are licensed by the state of New York had set up Panamanian shell companies.

The DFS inquiries come as Michel Sapin, France’s finance minister, has raised questions about the involvement of two French banks, BNP and Credit Agricole SA, in establishing Panamanian shell companies.

Links to Law Firm

Wednesday’s letter, nearly identical to the one sent out to the other banks last month, asks the banks to detail their interactions with Mossack Fonseca and disclose whether any employees of the banks’ New York offices had dealings with the law firm or the shell companies established through it.

The DFS letter also asks the banks to describe any internal or external investigations under way that relate to the law firm or the shell companies they sponsored, including any probes launched by regulators in the U.S. or abroad.

The DFS identified the banks through articles published by the ICIJ and other publications that received the leaked documents, according to a person briefed on the matter, cross checking them with financial institutions licensed in New York state.

The banks that received the DFS request last month include Commerzbank AG, ABN Amro Group NV, Credit Suisse AG, Societe Generale SA and Deutsche Bank AG. Representatives of those banks declined to comment on the matter.

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