Burson-Marsteller: Panama's Mossack Fonseca is not a client

PR firm rejected a claim in the Panama Papers they represented a firm implicated in helping wealthy and elite hide their wealth.

(Image via the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists).
(Image via the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists).

PANAMA: Burson-Marsteller has rebuffed a claim that it works for Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm accused of helping celebrities, criminals, and world leaders set up offshore bank accounts and companies to hide their wealth and evade taxes.

"Contrary to various media reports, the law firm Mossack Fonseca is not a client of Burson-Marsteller," Catherine Sullivan, Burson's MD, worldwide communications, told PRWeek via email. "From 2013 to January 2015, Mossack Fonseca worked with Comunicaciones Corporativas, the Panama-based public relations firm, which is an affiliate of Burson-Marsteller."

One of Comunicaciones Corporativas’ focuses is crisis communications. It has 18 employees.

Last year, 11.5 million documents were leaked from Mossack Fonseca and freely given to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, who shared the trove with more than 100 media organizations. A story published Sunday by the International Consortium of Journalists, one of the outlets that undertook the investigation, named Burson-Marsteller as Mossack Fonseca’s PR firm.

"Mossack Fonseca has since retained one of the world’s most powerful public relations agencies, Burson-Marsteller, which specializes in representing controversial clients, including dictators in Argentina, Indonesia and Romania, and Union Carbide after a deadly chemical explosion in Bhopal, India," the article reads.

When contacted for comment, ICIJ deferred to stories from other outlets, such as Vice, that also claim Comunicaciones Corporativas works with Mossack Fonseca.

The Panama Papers have had immediate fallout felt worldwide.

Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson resigned April 5 after his involvement in a British Virgin Islands company was revealed.

A day later, Juan Pedro Damiani, a Uruguayan lawyer, resigned as a FIFA ethics judge, and Michael Grahammer, the CEO of Austrian lender Hypo Landesbank Vorarlberg, resigned the day after that.

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