|Lic. Maria Mercedes Riaño Quijano|
A Mossack Fonseca attorney, Maria Mercedes Riaño Quijano, now in custody for her alleged role in facilitating the laundering of bribes and kickbacks, paid by Norberto Odebrecht, the Brazilian construction giant, is trying to evade liability, through a novel, but apparently bogus, theory: she claims she was merely the lawyer for MF in Brazil. Her attorney asserts that she has a written contract to prove up her position. The issue is, of course, in dispute.
The arrested partners in the firm, Jurgen Mossack and Ramón Fonseca Mora, say she ran a franchise operation in Brazil, acted independently of the MF home office in Panama, and had sole control over that operation. They are obviously looking to duck legal responsibility for the actions of the Brazilian office, whose illegal conduct was responsible for their recent detention and arrest, on money laundering charges. In truth and in fact, no information has emerged to support the MF partners' allegations; MF overseas offices appear to have been adroitly controlled from Panama, though the evidence has not yet been publicly revealed.