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Panama Papers Come to Light

Just after 1pm on Sunday, April 3, one of the biggest leaks in history went live as over hundreds of news outlets reported that the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca helped politicians worldwide to hide money.

Over a year before this data came to light, an anonymous source contacted the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung with internal documents from the firm with details about a system of offshore shell companies that are used by some of the world’s most well known political figures.

Owning an offshore shell company is not an illegal activity in itself, but the ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists), says that this offshore system is being used “to facilitate bribery, arms deals, tax evasion, financial fraud and drug trafficking.”

After receiving the documents, the German newspaper recruited the help of the ICIJ to research the documents. At 2.6 terabytes and made up of 11.5 million files, the Panama Papers is one of the largest leaks ever to take place.

Approximately 400 journalists from 80 countries and over 100 different media organizations took over a year to organize the documents.

People incriminated in these papers include celebrities, athletes, criminals, and FIFA officials, but it has been politicians who have taken the brunt of the leak.

In the hours since the data has been published, Vladimir Putin has been incriminated in a billion-dollar money laundering scandal with his close, childhood friends, who have been found to hold large, offshore, shell companies.

Iceland’s prime minister was also found to have had an hidden stake in Iceland’s bailed-out banks. Calls for his resignation are already taking place.

The breadth of incriminated political figures is substantial, including the former or current leaders of countries as the Ukraine, Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Sudan, the UAE, and Georgia.

Other leaders, like the British PM and the former Chinese Premier, have parents or children in possession of these shady companies.

Overall, 140 politicians from over 50 countries have been found to have connections to this system of offshore companies.

New facts are still coming to light, and more of the world’s most famous faces are being implicated in what is now becoming one of the most important leaks to which we have ever witnessed.


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