Bassingbourn businessman Manny Cohen in the spotlight amid Panama papers leak

Manny Cohen celebrating with Arlesey Town FC players and staff following a trophy win in 2011. Photo

Manny Cohen celebrating with Arlesey Town FC players and staff following a trophy win in 2011. Photo: Martyn Annetts. - Credit: Archant

The Panama-based law firm facing a global investigation amid accusations that it has helped the rich and powerful to evade taxes, dodge sanctions and launder money offshore has a UK office operating in North Herts – and at the top is a Bassingbourn businessman.

Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Cohen, the public face of Mossack Fonseca in the UK, is listed by Companies House as living in Bassingbourn. When he spoke at a ‘wealth management forum’ in Moscow in 2014 he was billed as ‘chairman and owner, RM Group UK and Mossack Fonseca UK’.

RM and Mossack Fonseca & Co (UK) Ltd have tried to distance themselves from the controversy, insisting that Hitchin-based Mossack Fonseca & Co (UK) Ltd is licensed by HMRC and an entirely separate legal entity from Mossack Fonseca of Panama – but a leaked email from 2003 seen by the Crow shows a clear link between the Hitchin office and Panama.

Hundreds of British firms are registered with Companies House at Mossack Fonseca & Co (UK)’s address, with RM firms as officers.

On Friday, the day after news of the Hitchin office’s presence broke, an ice cream van drove around the Wilbury Way industrial estate playing the theme from The Godfather.

Photographs and posts uploaded by Mr Cohen to the Russian social network VK – which is similar to Facebook – reveal a colourful and well-connected character.

The 58-year-old former RAF reserve officer is shown in Panama in 2009, partying in London and Moscow and having drinks on the terrace of the Houses of Parliament.

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Other photos show him touring Venice and enjoying a seaside holiday in Tel Aviv, Israel.

In 2013 he posted a picture of himself with five women in sailor outfits. Two other photos, both from 2009, show him with glamorous women in Moscow and Panama. Cohen wrote as captions ‘Miss Moscow ... 2 hours after she won ... lucky for her ... she met me ... the man from London’ and ‘Last year’s Carnival queen ... Isn’t she lucky to have her pic taken with me’.

Mr Cohen, a director of British Bobsleigh who was also chairman of Arlesey Town FC until last year, restricted access to his VK profile on Monday.

He says on his LinkedIn page: “I like doing things a bit differently to others. My goal is to succeed and try not to take myself too seriously.”