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Police outside the Mossack-Fonseca offices in Panama City. The firm’s leaked Panama Papers revealed how the world’s wealthy and powerful used offshore companies to stash assets. Photograph: Carlos Jasso/Reuters

The US Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into the widespread international tax avoidance schemes exposed by the Panama Papers leak, published by the Guardian and other journalistic partners.

Preet Bharara, the US attorney for Manhattan, said he had

“opened a criminal investigation regarding matters to which the Panama Papers are relevant”.

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