This weekend an enormous trove of 11.5 million internal documents were leaked from Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca. The documents show the network of offshore companies that help hundreds of thousands of uber-rich individuals hide their assets.
Immediately, progressive news outlets began covering the leak:
The Panama Papers illustrate how the world’s powerful co-opt corrupt legal systems to serve their interests. https://t.co/IS2zKbNdH3
— The Intercept (@the_intercept) April 4, 2016
Mossak Fonseca is the fourth-largest of its kind worldwide. Its purpose is to create shell corporations, basically paper-only companies that are legally able to hold and transfer assets in one country for their owners in distant countries. Paid agents in the country where the shell company is created take care of all transactions so that the actual owners can stay secret. All of this is to exploit international tax law loops.
The whole process minimizes any legal trouble for all parties while allowing them to launder money, dodge sanctions and avoid taxes. Mossad Fonseca stated that: “We only incorporate companies, which just about everyone acknowledges is important, and something that’s critical in ensuring the global economy functions efficiently.”
The documents showed transactions from back to 1977 and include information on over 200,000 offshore shell companies. Edward Snowden is calling it the “Biggest leak in the history of data journalism.” The International Consortium of Investigative Journalism (ICIJ) is calling it “a never-before-seen view inside the offshore world — providing a day-to-day, decade-by-decade look at how dark money flows through the global financial system, breeding crime and stripping national treasuries of tax revenues.”
Among the many named in the documents were politicians and their families, drug dealers, arms traders, and human traffickers.
The list includes the Prime Minister of Iceland, Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson, and close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin. On Monday, protestors called for Iceland’s prime minister to resign:
Panama Papers: mass protests in Iceland call for prime minister to quit – live https://t.co/MN0TzdiQN5
— The Guardian (@guardian) April 4, 2016
Fusion has a full list of the current and former world leaders connected to the files here.
For more information on the leak, you can visit the following sources:
The Panama Papers, explained: https://t.co/vOpQoLM9L2
— Ezra Klein (@ezraklein) April 4, 2016
— Oxfam International (@Oxfam) April 4, 2016
How the ‘Panama Papers’ may be linked to “the crime of the century” https://t.co/AzzCFmgzr9
— The Independent (@Independent) April 4, 2016