Photographer: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

French Prosecutors Looking at 22 Targets in Panama Leaks Probe

  • Eliane Houlette hopes to bring court cases this year
  • Investigators opened probe into suspected money-laundering

French prosecutors have identified 22 targets in their investigation into the Panama Papers leak that revealed the widespread use of offshore shell companies possibly set up to avoid taxes.

Eliane Houlette, France’s financial prosecutor, said in a Paris speech on Monday that months after investigators opened a probe focusing on tax residents some cases may make it to court this year.

“Progress in the French probe is in tune with other countries’ probes,” Houlette said, in reference to the investigation opened in April 2016 into suspected laundering of the proceeds of aggravated tax fraud.

Last April, media reports based on millions of leaked documents revealed how lawyers from Panama’s Mossack Fonseca worked with some of Europe’s largest banks, including Societe Generale SA, to create offshore shell companies for world leaders, athletes and other rich clients.

Houlette also said French financial prosecutors plan to put into practice a new civil settlement tool that resembles the U.S. deferred prosecution agreement. It would allow for a quicker and cheaper finalization of cases while at the same time imposing appropriate fines, she said.

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