Panama Papers: Massive data leak reveals global links in offshore holdings

The first results of the year-long "Panama Papers" investigation revealing the offshore links of some of the world’s most prominent figures were published

The first results of a year-long investigation revealing the offshore links of some of the world’s most prominent figures were published on Sunday.

The “Panama Papers” investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung and more than 100 other media partners has uncovered 11.5 million documents from Mossack Fonseca, a global law firm based in Panama.

The leak came from an anonymous source who contacted Süddeutsche Zeitung and gave journalists encrypted internal documents from Mossack Fonseca. SZ acquired about 2.6 terabytes of data, and said the source “wanted neither financial compensation nor anything else in return, apart from a few security measures.”

The stories that come from these documents will be published over coming days and weeks, and in early May ICIJ will release the full list of companies and people linked to them.

Stories from around the world published April 3

Our curated list of global Panama Papers stories

ICIJ says journalists spent a year examining the files to “expose the offshore holdings of world political leaders, links to global scandals, and details of the hidden financial dealings of fraudsters, drug traffickers, billionaires, celebrities, sports stars and more.”

ICIJ says the data reveals the offshore holdings of 140 politicians and public officials around the world. Among them are 12 current and former world leaders including the prime ministers of Iceland and Pakistan, the president of Ukraine, and the king of Saudi Arabia. The documents also show $2 billion in transactions made by associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

ICIJ says the data also includes the names of at least 33 people and companies blacklisted by the U.S. government because of evidence that they’d been involved in wrongdoing, such as doing business with Mexican drug lords, Hezbollah, North Korea and Iran.

According to ICIJ, the documents span nearly 40 years of documents from a powerful law firm based in Panama. Mossack Fonseca has 35 global offices and is “one of the world’s top creators of shell companies, corporate structures that can be used to hide ownership of assets.”

ICIJ says the data includes emails, spreadsheets, passports and corporate records revealing the owners of bank accounts and companies in 21 offshore jurisdictions.


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