The Panama Papers Leak: 10 Things We’ve LearnedBy Megan T. Brown on April 7, 2016
It’s been compared to Edward Snowden’s NSA whistleblowing, and some are calling the Panama Papers leak “the biggest data leak in history.” 11.5 million files were released from the database of Mossack Fonseca, the fourth-largest offshore law firm in the world, exposing the ways some of the most powerful people in the world shuffle billions of dollars offshore to exploit tax havens. Here are the most shared takeaways about this monumental data discovery.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists released the documents to a large network of international partners after receiving them from a German newspaper. The ICIJ continues to document the key players and findings in its ongoing investigation.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
The rich exploit offshore tax havens in numerous ways, as illustrated by the papers released from Panama-based Mossack Fonseca. Here are the ways corrupt individuals might use offshore structures to hide their wealth.
The elected leaders of Russia, Argentina and Iceland have been implicated in the reports, along with a member of FIFA's Independent Ethics Committee.
Mossack Fonseca defends its business practices, saying it has not been accused of any wrongdoing over the past 40 years. According to the documents, the firm's financial services offered include assisting business clients in hiding their wealth.
The scandal has further incensed Americans against "global elite" figures, a demographic with which Clinton is often associated, and her involvement is being questioned due to her push for the Panama Free Trade Agreement (FTA) during her tenure as Secretary of State.
EPA via The Independent
The Panama FTA pushed by President Obama and then-Secretary of State Clinton was met with opposition from government watchdogs prior to its signing in 2011, and now the agreement bars the United States from taking action against the tax haven.
Reuters via International Business Times
The 2.6-terabyte exchange of information included more than 4.8 million emails, 3 million database files, and 2.1 million PDFs from the law firm and was initiated via a series of encrypted chats between German reporter Bastian Obermayer and an anonymous source.
Naqiewe/Getty Images via Wired
Though it's impossible to know how much money exists in offshore tax havens, economics experts estimate that it totals at least $7.6 trillion – around 8 percent of the world's financial wealth – and has likely increased by about 25 percent over the last five years.
Data from 214,488 "offshore entities" spread throughout 200 countries and territories was included in the Mossack Fonesca files. The firm asserts the majority of is clients are "regulated entities, such as premier banks, attorneys, accountants, other law firms, trust companies, etc."
Kirill Kudryavtsev/AFP/Getty Images via NPR
The Podesta Group, founded by the chairman of Clinton's campaign, signed up to lobby for Washington's Sberbank of Russia. The bank is allegedly tied to Vladimir Putin & his associates, and has been implicated in the ongoing tangle of information unearthed by the documents.