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A court in Panama has acquitted 28 people who were prosecuted in connection with tax evasion and money-laundering scandals – including those detailed in the so-called 2016 “Panama Papers,” which highlighted how some of the world’s rich and powerful use tax havens to hide their wealth, the BBC reported.

The cases centered on Jurgen Mossack and Ramon Fonseca, who founded a now-defunct law firm called Mossack Fonseca & Co., which played an outsized role in the Panama Papers investigation.

Judge Baloisa Marquínez said at the court in Panama City late last month that the evidence considered by the court was “not sufficient” to determine the criminal responsibility of the defendants, who faced up to 12 years in jail. He also said the evidence from the data leak had not been collected in line with due process, questioning its “authenticity and integrity,” Agence-France Presse reported.

Both Mossack and Fonseca – who died in May – denied they, their firm, or their employees had acted illegally.

The scandal broke in April 2016 when the leak of secret financial documents showed how high-profile personalities such as former British Prime Minister David Cameron, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Argentine soccer superstar Lionel Messi hid their wealth in offshore accounts in tax havens such as Panama. The list also included 12 current or former heads of state and government, including dictators accused of embezzling money from their own countries.

It was the biggest such data leak in history, with 11.5 million documents analyzed by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), led by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. “While the court did not hold these defendants accountable, the enduring impact of our investigation persists,” said ICIJ executive director Gerard Ryle.

Judge Marquínez also acquitted individuals charged with money laundering in the “Operation Car Wash” corruption scandal that rocked Brazil and other South American countries in 2014, which resulted in the imprisonment of President Luiz Ignácio Lula da Silva, Reuters reported.

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