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Press Release

U.S. Taxpayer In Panama Papers Investigation Sentenced To 4 Years In Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Audrey Strauss, the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Brian C. Rabbitt, Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, announced today that HARALD JOACHIM VON DER GOLTZ, a/k/a “H.J. von der Goltz,” a/k/a “Johan von der Goltz,” a/k/a “Jochen von der Goltz,” a/k/a “Tica,” a/k/a “Tika,” was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 48 months in prison for wire fraud, tax fraud, money laundering, false statements, and other charges.  VON DER GOLTZ, a former U.S. resident and taxpayer, was charged along with Ramses Owens, Dirk Brauer, and Richard Gaffey, a/k/a “Dick Gaffey,” in connection with a decades-long criminal scheme perpetrated by Mossack Fonseca & Co. (“Mossack Fonseca”), a Panamanian-based global law firm, and its related entities.  VON DER GOLTZ previously pleaded guilty to the charges, and was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman.

Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss said:  “Harald Joachim von der Goltz, a one-time U.S. resident, previously admitted to an elaborate scheme to evade millions in taxes owed to the IRS.  Von der Goltz was abetted by the specialized criminal services of the law firm Mossack Fonseca to conceal income and assets in shell companies and off-shore bank accounts.  Now von der Goltz has been sentenced to four years in federal prison for his conduct.”

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt said:   “Harald Joachim von der Goltz sought to conceal his considerable wealth through a sham foreign foundation and various shell companies.  But his decades-long scheme to evade his tax obligations and defraud the U.S. government came to an end today thanks to the tireless efforts of U.S. law enforcement.  No matter how complicated the scheme, the U.S. government will bring to justice those who attempt to evade their tax obligations under the law.   In particular, I would like to recognize the outstanding work of the Internal Revenue Service in this case.”

According to the allegations contained in the Indictments[1], other filings in this case, and statements during court proceedings, including VON DER GOLTZ’s guilty plea and sentencing hearings:

Since at least 2000 through 2017, VON DER GOLTZ conspired with others to conceal his assets and investments, and the income generated by those assets and investments, from the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) through fraudulent, deceitful, and dishonest means.  During all relevant times, VON DER GOLTZ was a U.S. resident and was subject to U.S. tax laws, which required him to report and pay income tax on worldwide income, including income and capital gains generated in domestic and foreign bank accounts.  Nevertheless, VON DER GOLTZ evaded his tax reporting obligations by setting up a series of shell companies and bank accounts, and hiding his beneficial ownership of the shell companies and bank accounts from the IRS.  These shell companies and bank accounts made investments totaling tens of millions of dollars.  VON DER GOLTZ was assisted in this scheme through the use of Mossack Fonseca, including Ramses Owens, a Panamanian lawyer who previously worked at Mossack Fonseca, and by Richard Gaffey, a partner at a U.S.-based accounting firm.  Specifically, in furtherance of VON DER GOLTZ’s efforts to conceal his assets and income from the IRS, VON DER GOLTZ engaged the services of Mossack Fonseca, including Owens, to create a sham foundation and shell companies formed under the laws of Panama and the British Virgin Islands to conceal from the IRS and others the ownership by VON DER GOLTZ of accounts established at overseas banks, as well as the income generated in those accounts.  VON DER GOLTZ, Gaffey, and Owens also falsely claimed that VON DER GOLTZ’s elderly mother was the sole beneficial owner of the shell companies and bank accounts at issue because, at all relevant times, she was a Guatemalan citizen and resident, and – unlike VON DER GOLTZ – was not a U.S. taxpayer. 

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VON DER GOLTZ, 83, of Needham, Massachusetts, and Key Biscayne, Florida, pled guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit tax evasion; one count of wire fraud; one count of money laundering conspiracy; four counts of willful failure to file Reports of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts, FINCEN Reports 114; and two counts of false statements.  In addition to the prison term, Judge Berman ordered VON DER GOLTZ to serve three years of supervised release, to pay forfeiture in the amount of $5,373,609 and restitution in the amount of $3,448,848, and to pay a fine in the amount of $30,000. 

Gaffey previously pled guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Berman on September 24, 2020, at 10:30 a.m.  Owens and Brauer remain at large. 

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Ms. Strauss praised the outstanding investigative work of IRS, Criminal Investigation, and Homeland Security Investigations, and thanked the Justice Department’s Tax Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their significant assistance in the investigation.  Ms. Strauss also thanked the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs of the Department’s Criminal Division and law enforcement partners in France, the United Kingdom, and Germany for their assistance in the case.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

This case is being handled by the Office’s Complex Frauds and Cybercrime Unit and Money Laundering and Transnational Criminal Enterprises Unit, working in partnership with the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the Criminal Division.  Assistant United States Attorneys Eun Young Choi and Thane Rehn, along with Trial Attorney Michael Parker of the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section, are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges as to Owens and Brauer are merely accusations, and they are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.


[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the texts of the Indictments and the descriptions of the Indictments set forth herein constitute only allegations as to Owens and Brauer, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.


James Margolin, Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated September 21, 2020

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 20-199