Leonard Gotshalk, an Atlanta Falcons football player turned Oregon businessman, had a history of legal issues by the time he went looking to buy an offshore company in 2010. Lawsuits and criminal filings had accused the former NFL offensive lineman of fraud and racketeering.
Mossack Fonseca, a Panama-based law firm that specializes in selling offshore companies, initially told Gotshalk it couldn’t do business with him, because of “negative information” that its compliance unit had found. Gotshalk persuaded the law firm to reconsider, noting in an email that he’d “held offshore accounts in the past in Europe and Bahamas and Belize” without problems.
Three months later – on May 21, 2010 – federal prosecutors in Philadelphia unsealed an indictment charging that Gotshalk was a key player in a scheme that used kickbacks and other tactics to inflate the prices of tech company stocks.
Three days later – on May 24 – Mossack Fonseca recorded a $3,055 wire transfer from Gotshalk, the firm’s internal records show. The money paid for a British Virgin Islands company called Irishmyst Consultants Limited.
Gotshalk isn’t the only American with a suspect past who has used Mossack Fonseca’s services. A review of the law firm’s internal files by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists and other media partners has identified companies tied to at least 36 Americans accused of fraud or other serious financial misconduct.
ICIJ and its media partners found the details of Gotshalk’s offshore company – and other companies linked to Americans accused of financial mischief – within the Panama Papers, a trove of leaked documents that expose the business practices of Mossack Fonseca, one of the world’s largest marketers of offshore secrecy.