IT specialist arrested in hunt for Panama Papers whistleblower

An employee at the Geneva offices of Mossack Fonseca, the law firm at the centre of the Panama Papers leak, has been arrested.

Last year a whistleblower contacted German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, offering information from the internal files Mossack Fonseca. The leak resulted in the resignation of the Icelandic prime minister and caused international outrage over the elite’s use of tax havens.

A spokeswoman for the city prosecutor confirmed this week that “a procedure has been opened by the public ministry of Geneva following a complaint made by Mossack Fonseca”.

The person arrested still remains anonymous.

The newspaper involved in the scandal is certain that the person arrested is not their informant. Bastian Obermayer, who jointly led the investigation at Süddeutsche Zeitung, told The Guardian: “According to our information this is not John Doe.”

The newspaper source has not revealed his identity but said that he will fully cooperate with the law.

Mossack Fonseca is bringing an action of theft of information and breach of trust against the employee. However, the IT worker’s lawyers, Thomas Barth and Roman Jordan, said their client “denied all of the accusations against him”.

Mossack Fonseca’s lawyer Thierry Ulmann, while unsure that the employee is the whistleblower, said: “All hypotheses are open. What we know is that data was taken via his computer in Geneva and that this IT worker had full access privileges.

“It’s on this basis that we have filed a complaint for data theft and breach of the law firm’s trust. Very detailed investigations are being undertaken by Geneva police to analyse the digital traces and shed light on this theft of data.”